Karim Benzema scored a second-half hat-trick as Real Madrid advanced to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of Paris Saint-Germain after a sensational comeback at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Real Madrid knew that a win was the only option if they wanted to continue in the fight for their 14th European title.
With that in mind, Los Blancos started on the front foot as Vinicius Junior introduced himself to the visitors on the left, as his fast footwork caused problems for Danilo Pereira and Ashraf Hakimi.
Kylian Mbappe did the same with the Parisians, forcing Thibault Courtois to make a string of early saves.
Both teams continued their fast pace in the first half, with both coming close to opening the scoring, Mbappé appeared to have opened the scoring when Nuno Mendes found space on the left and his cut was placed under Real’s goalkeeper at the 23rd French 3-year-old, but VAR ruled out the possibility due to Mendes offside.
There were no mistakes the second time around as Mbappé finally got his goal. PSG got the ball back in midfield and Neymar was quick to throw a loose ball over Real’s defence, putting Mbappé through one-on-one and he sent the ball into the same bottom left-hand corner as his last shot to give the visitors the lead.
Carlo Anceloitt’s men built up pressure at the start of the second half, forcing the PSG defense to struggle on occasion to maintain their lead, but that ambition for the forward almost cost him right after the 50th minute.
Mbappé’s spectacular footwork sent Courtois in the wrong direction as he hit the ball at home, but Madrid were kept alive by another offside.
The hosts were given a lifeline for a mistake by Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was caught in possession of the ball in his own area, allowing Benzema to breathe new life into the equalizer.
Madrid tied the tie on aggregate with another Benzema goal. Luka Modrić beat the visitors’ defense with a great ball to the French who turned and scored, giving his team the lead. Surprisingly, Real scored again 12 seconds later.
Vinícius put pressure on Marquinhos, who unconvincedly kicked the ball to the edge of the penalty area where Benema was lurking to finish his hat-trick and smash the ball into the bottom right corner, giving Madrid a night lead and the overall lead.
PSG continued to panic in the later stages as Real Madrid calmly watched the final minutes of this electrifying match and was unlucky not to be able to increase their lead in the process.
Another collapse in Europe surely leaves Mauricio Pochettino with serious questions to answer his future at the Parc des Princes, after once again failing to win the trophy they most crave.