TURIN, Italy (AP)If Kylian Mbappe keeps this up, he might be unstoppable at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
Mbappe’s power and strength were on full display when he shook off a defender tugging desperately on his shirt to score a memorable goal in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Mbappe also set up another goal as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-1 at already eliminated Juventus, which claimed a Europa League spot.
But PSG had to settle for second place in Group H since Benfica moved ahead on away goals with a 6-1 rout at Maccabi Haifa.
Benfica and PSG each finished with 14 points. Juventus goes to the Europa League despite earning just three points in total, the same as Haifa, because it held the tiebreaker over the Israeli club.
PSG now risks drawing Real Madrid – the team that knocked it out last year – in the round of 16, or other European powers like Manchester City and Bayern Munich.
”We wanted to win the group but that’s what happens in football,” Mbappe said. ”We were a bit shaky, a bit uncertain but it’s the Champions League and winning is always the most important thing. I’m pleased that I scored and I’m pleased that we won. We’ll have to see what the draw brings.”
Early in the first half, inexperienced Juventus defender Federico Gatti did all he could to hold Mbappe back but the France forward seemed unperturbed and quickly cut inside past Manuel Locatelli before unleashing a powerful shot past three more defenders that ricocheted in off the post.
It was Mbappe’s seventh goal in the six-game group stage and 40th in 59 career Champions League matches. At age 23, he eclipsed teammate Lionel Messi to become the youngest to score 40 goals in Europe’s top club competition.
Mbappe already scored four goals when he helped France win the last World Cup in 2018. If France makes another run in this year’s tournament, which starts Nov. 20, he could score even more.
Juventus captain Leonardo Bonucci equalized before the break from close range by redirecting in a header from Juan Cuadrado for his first Champions League goal in six years.
Midway through the second half, Mbappe slotted a perfectly placed pass to set up substitute Nuno Mendes for the winner on a counterattack.
With the club missing 11 players due to injury, Juventus fans cheered loudly when key winger Federico Chiesa came on in the second half to mark his return after nearly 300 days out since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in January.
Juventus then had a potential goal from Locatelli waved off for offside.
It was a forgettable campaign for Juventus, which lost five of its six matches and missed out on the knockout phase for the first time since 2013-14.
”Sure we’re going to play the Europa League. But Juventus expects to be playing against the best teams come March. We deservedly didn’t advance and that makes us very angry,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. ”We’ll carry that inside of us.”
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