Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Brest: Mbappe strikes again as leaders ease to victory

By Sports Desk January 15, 2022

Kylian Mbappe and Thilo Kehrer were on target as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 2-0 Ligue 1 win over Brest at Parc des Princes.

Mauricio Pochettino's side headed into Saturday's meeting on an 11-game unbeaten league run, albeit with four draws in their last five, and were ahead when Mbappe struck in the 32nd minute.

That strike was the 23-year-old's 10th in Ligue 1 this term, meaning he has hit double figures in six straight seasons – in the same period, no other player has done so more than three times.

Kehrer extended PSG's advantage after the interval as the hosts coasted to three points to move 11 clear of second-placed Nice at the summit.

Irvin Cardona twice forced smart stops from Gianluigi Donnarumma in the opening stages, while Mbappe drilled narrowly wide at the other end.

But there was no stopping Mbappe after 32 minutes when he fired through Brendan Chardonnet's legs and into the bottom-left corner, before Mauro Icardi saw his header disallowed for an apparent foul on Marco Bizot.

Marco Verratti almost added a second immediately after the break, only to be denied by the post, though the hosts doubled their lead soon after.

Nuno Mendes danced past Ronael Pierre-Gabriel to find Kehrer, who applied a first-time finish into the top-right corner from near the penalty spot.

Bizot then denied Marquinhos with a fantastic reflex save before making two fine stops from Mbappe to keep the scoreline respectable for Brest.

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  • Madrid's miracle men topple Klopp's mentality monsters to make more history in Paris Madrid's miracle men topple Klopp's mentality monsters to make more history in Paris

    And so at the end of a gruelling 63-game season, mentality monsters Liverpool met their match against the miracle men of Real Madrid.

    For the best part of an hour in Paris, Carlo Ancelotti's side looked off the pace and seemingly in need of some inspiration. Yet Madrid did what Madrid do. 

    Just ask Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City exactly how that feels.

    Unlike in the previous three rounds, no comeback was required on Saturday thanks to Vinicius Junior's 59th-minute strike and a string of incredible Thibaut Courtois saves.

    The pair, who along with Karim Benzema have been key in Los Blancos' run to the final, will now forever be synonymous with their side's 14th continental triumph.

    That is double the number of European Cups or Champions Leagues won by the next most successful side, with Milan on seven and Liverpool just behind, still stuck on six.

    Back in the city of the first of their triumphs, you can be sure that this will not be the last for the true kings of Europe.

    Not for the first time this season, Ancelotti's men were slow getting out of the blocks, perhaps not helped by a delay to kick-off of more than 30 minutes.

    That was down to crowd congestion, as UEFA put it, with one half of the ground swathed in white 45 minutes before the scheduled start time and the Liverpool end a patchy red.

    Those Liverpool fans who didn't make it into the ground on time would have missed a dominant first-half display from their side.

    The Reds had more shots on target in the first 22 minutes than they did in the entire of the 2019 final, which ended in victory against Tottenham.

    Madrid had not even registered a shot or a touch in the Liverpool box by that point, and the Premier League side's dominance only grew as the warmth in the Paris air turned to a slight chill.

    By half-time, Jurgen Klopp's side had aimed as many shots on target as in their previous two finals combined, including the defeat to Madrid four years ago in Kyiv.

    Crucially, though, Courtois had kept out each of them, including a fine stop from Sadio Mane, helping his shot onto the post.

    That was the seventh time Liverpool had hit the woodwork in the Champions League this season – the most of any side – yet the first signs of the tide turning arrived just before the break.

    Benzema, kept quiet for large parts, fired the ball in after a mix-up between Alisson and Ibrahima Konate, only for the officials to deem the France striker to be offside.

    It was a hugely contentious call, one that took three minutes for VAR to review, although it will now represent a mere footnote when looking back at this game in years to come.

    Vinicius – and Courtois – ultimately proved the difference, despite Liverpool throwing all they had at their opponents. The Belgium international made the most Champions League final saves (nine) of any goalkeeper on record (since 2003-04).

    And so, for the eighth final running, the side that scored first went on to win, a run stretching back to Madrid's comeback victory against Atletico Madrid in 2014.

    Digging deep is nothing new for Madrid, then, and again in Paris – albeit perhaps not quite to the same extent as witnessed in previous rounds – their grit and character was on show.

    A side who had trailed for 178 minutes in the semi-final, and 243 minutes in total in this campaign (21 per cent of their minutes played), came through this most difficult of runs.

    Let it not be forgotten that the LaLiga winners saw off the champions of France, the champions of England and the erstwhile champions of Europe en route even before facing Liverpool and toppling them, too.

    It will be particularly special for Ancelotti, who becomes an outright record four-time winner of the Champions League, but this success was about a team who refused to be beaten and again had the ability to grind out a victory just when required.

    Never has a Champions League triumph been so hard-fought and yet so deserved.

  • 'I played a great game and that was the difference' – Courtois revels in Champions League heroics 'I played a great game and that was the difference' – Courtois revels in Champions League heroics

    Thibaut Courtois revelled in making the difference as his fine goalkeeping performance guided Real Madrid to a Champions League final victory over Liverpool on Saturday.

    Madrid had their backs to the wall from the offset at the Stade de France as Liverpool attempted as many shots on target in the first half (five) as they did in their previous two Champions League finals combined (two in 2018 and three in 2019).

    That first-half display included two fine Courtois stops against a close-range Mohamed Salah effort and Sadio Mane drive, but the Belgium international saved his best for after the interval.

    Courtois expertly denied Salah three times in the second half, the last of which was particularly impressive as he dived to his right to tip away, with Vinicius Junior nudging Madrid ahead at the other end.

    The rearguard of Madrid held firm to secure a 1-0 win and record-extending 14th Champions League title as Courtois ended with a record nine saves in the final of the competition, since Opta began recording data in 2003-04.

    Courtois has led the way among goalkeepers in the competition this season, making the most saves (59) and boasting the highest save percentage of goalkeepers to make five stops or more (80.56).

    The 30-year-old, speaking after the game, reflected on a productive outing on both a personal and team level.

    "I said yesterday in my press conference when Madrid plays finals they win it," he told BT Sport.

    "And I'm on the good side of history, I saw a lot of tweets coming my way that I will get humbled today and it was the other way round.

    "I needed to win a final for my career, for all the hard work, to put respect on my name – I don't think I have enough, especially in England.

    "I saw a lot of criticism even after a great season that I was not good enough. I'm really happy and proud at the performance of the team, we stuck to it and when I needed to be there I was there for the team.

    "We beat the best clubs in the world, together with us, you see the year City and Liverpool had, unbelievable seasons, they fought till the end in the Premier League.

    "Liverpool won two cups, today they were really strong, I think I played a great game and that was the difference – we had one chance and we scored it."

    Aside from a dominant personal performance, Courtois believes Madrid have shown they are the best side in Europe.

    "So many years, so much work, coming to the club of my life, yesterday I already said that Madrid wins and it is like that," he told Movistar. 

    "Many from Liverpool and other people criticising me but we have shown who is the king of Europe.

    "I've felt very good this year, I've managed the last few weeks well, and once you make the first stop then you're focused, and I took chances from Mane and Salah.

    "Nobody could take away my desire to win a Champions League. For my loved ones who have passed, I was going to win a Champions League."

    As for his best save, Courtois added: "Especially Salah's, I looked for it from distance, and I knew where the ball was going. It's crazy, I don't believe it.

    "The referee added five minutes without anything happening, but hey, we held on."

  • Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid: Vinicius strikes as Blancos become European champions for 14th time Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid: Vinicius strikes as Blancos become European champions for 14th time

    Vinicius Junior scored the decisive goal as Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in a delayed Champions League final in Paris on Saturday.

    Kick-off was pushed back by more than 30 minutes as Liverpool fans struggled to gain entry to the Stade de France, eventually taking their places to see Jurgen Klopp's men control much of the proceedings.

    But Madrid got the vital goal in the 59th minute when Vinicius tucked away his fourth of this season's competition – from one of just four Blancos attempts.

    Premier League runners-up Liverpool were denied by a string of superb saves from Thibaut Courtois either side of that strike, and Carlo Ancelotti's side held on to lift the European Cup for a 14th time – seven more than any other side. 

    Liverpool had started in confident mood following the delay and only failed to take the lead inside the opening 20 minutes courtesy of two fine stops from Courtois.

    The Real Madrid goalkeeper got down quickly to keep out Mohamed Salah's instinctive effort, before he superbly pawed Sadio Mane's powerful strike onto the post.

    Madrid thought they had taken the lead shortly before the interval when Karim Benzema stroked home after some slapstick defending from Liverpool, yet it was ruled out for offside against the France international – the decision confirmed by the VAR after a lengthy review.

    They were not to be denied just before the hour mark, however, when Vinicius stole in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold to turn in Federico Valverde's low ball across the penalty area.

    Courtois made three vital saves from Salah inside the final 20 minutes – the last of which really caught the eye – to cap a wonderful individual display and ensure Ancelotti's men claimed a record-extending triumph.

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