The Champions League knockout stage got started with a bang Tuesday. Manchester City had no trouble in their dispatch of Sporting CP with a 5-0 win in Portugal. Kylian Mbappe, meanwhile, saved PSG against his possible future suitor Real Madrid with a goal deep into stoppage time for a 1-0 win in the first leg. The second legs of both of these matchups will take place next month on CBS and Paramount+.
Here's a breakdown of both games, and highlights from the day's action.
Mbappe saves PSG
It looked like Real Madrid would get a draw against the odds after Thibaut Courtois saved Lionel Messi's penalty in the 61st minute, but ultimately PSG's pressure proved to be too much.
Real Madrid spent most of the match in a shell, allowing 21 shots for a combined 1.85 xG while their attack did not put a single one of their three shots on target and ended the night with a paltry 0.14 xG. The attacking players struggled to complete their passes as PSG pressed them off the pitch, shooting with ease. I'm not sure what Mauricio Pottechino said at the half but it must have worked as 15 of PSG's shots came in the final 45.
There was a noticeable increase in their attack when Neymar entered, as the Brazilian made his first appearance since Nov. 28. Neymar was credited with the assist on Mbappe's stoppage-time winner, his second in only four days.
Real Madrid will likely need to get something from Marcelo in the second leg as Ferland Mendy will be suspended due to yellow-card accumulation. They'll also need to fill the massive void left behind by Casemiro who is also out due to yellow-card accumulation.
It's one thing to call Sporting underdogs heading into this match, it's another to envision the Portuguese side down three 32 minutes into the game. Only VAR and a few inches stood between Bernardo Silva and a hat trick as City can kick their feet up at home in the second leg. Scoring five goals from only six shots on target is impressive stuff from Pep Guardiola's side. And it seemed like City players were trying to one-up one another with the goals.
Silva's goal was spectacular.
The ball from Riyad Mahrez on Phil Foden's goal was out of this world.
And then Raheem Sterling's finish is something to behold.
Confidence flows when you're having fun and City were pinging the ball all over the park as they moved one step closer to an elusive Champions League title.
Lionel Messi, PSG: Getting on this list for the wrong reasons, Messi seemed a step slow at times against Real Madrid. While he created four chances and took eight shots, the missed penalty will be the memory of the night. Messi also wasn't accurate with his shooting, only putting two shots on target. As he doesn't bring much defensively when the ball isn't hitting the back of the net, Messi will need to produce if PSG are expecting to be serious Champions League contenders. Rating: 5
Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid: Where would Real be without Courtois? Out of this tie is a good guess considering that he made seven saves, including the denial of Messi's PK. Real Madrid's defense didn't help much as all the pressure was on Courtois to keep them in the game and he delivered so that his team has a chance in the second leg at home. Rating: 9
Marco Verratti, PSG: Another world-class performance from the PSG midfielder. Taking a team-high 123 touches, Verratti orchestrated the midfield, creating six chances while also getting nine ball recoveries. Possibly the most important player each week for PSG, he got the job done again limiting Real's chances. Rating: 8
Adnan, Sporting: A goalkeeper's job isn't easy. Not only was Adnan ineffective in net, he was wasteful in possession, only completing 37 percent of his passes to invite pressure onto his defense at every chance. Only making one save in the match, he almost allowed every shot on target to hit the back of the net. Rating: 3
Rodri, Machester City: While City scored five goals and Rodri assisted none of them, it was the defensive midfielder's guile in the middle of the park that made this possible. Making a match-high nine recoveries, Rodri was quick to switch defense into attack and rarely misplaced a pass, completing 95 percent of his 83 passes. Good in the air, Rodri did everything for City. Rating: 9
Goal of the Day
While City may have scored the better goals, it was Mbappe who scored the most meaningful. His last-second goal capped off an excellent performance where he created chances but his teammates couldn't get on the end of them. Mbappe accounted for half of the team's shots that hit the target as well. An excellent performance that makes you wonder why he didn't take the penalty that Messi missed.
Outlook for the second legs
Manchester City vs. Sporting CP, March 9 (Paramount+): Manchester City will have smooth sailing into the last eight as Pep Guardiola may leave some key members out of the squad to rest for Premier League play. As City are struggling with injuries to Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish, it's good to get this match taken care of and leave no doubt in the second leg.
Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain, March 9 (CBS and Paramount+): For PSG, things are trickier. They outclassed Real Madrid in every aspect but only have a 1-0 lead heading into the second leg in Spain. Neymar's return will be a boon to the attack but they'll have to be on their game as another wasteful performance will see Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior light up the Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid are one team you can never count out of a Champions League comeback.