Mbappe breaks Messi’s record as PSG beats Juventus 2-1 in Champions League; Benfica routs Haifa 6-1

Benfica achieved its best group-stage campaign in the Champions League by routing Maccabi Haifa 6-1 and finishing as group-topper over Paris Saint-Germain.

At age 23, Mbappe eclipsed teammate Lionel Messi to become the youngest to score 40 goals in Europe’s top club competition.

At age 23, Mbappe eclipsed teammate Lionel Messi to become the youngest to score 40 goals in Europe’s top club competition. | Photo Credit: AP

Benfica achieved its best group-stage campaign in the Champions League by routing Maccabi Haifa 6-1 and finishing as group-topper over Paris Saint-Germain.

If Kylian Mbappé keeps this up, he might be unstoppable at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

Mbappé’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.

Mbappé 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 while Juventus and Maccabi trailed with three each — with Juventus ahead on goal difference.

Early in the first half, inexperienced Juventus defender Federico Gatti did all he could to hold Mbappé 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 Mbappé’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.

Mbappé 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, Mbappé 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 from a long-term injury layoff.

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.

BENFICA ROUTS MACCABI HAIFA

Benfica achieved its best group-stage campaign in the Champions League by routing Maccabi Haifa 6-1 on Wednesday.

The result gave the Portuguese side 14 points from six matches, two points more than its previous best campaign achieved 11 years ago.

It also was enough to give Benfica first place in Group H ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, which won at Juventus but finished behind the Portuguese side on the number of away goals scored.

João Mário’s long-range low shot in stoppage time turned out to be crucial as Benfica and PSG were even on points and head-to-head, and were also tied on goals scored and conceded overall.

Benfica had already secured a spot in the next round in advance.

The victory over Haifa also extended Benfica’s unbeaten run to 22 straight matches this season.

Gonçalo Ramos put the visitors ahead with a header in the 20th, and Haifa equalized with Tjaronn Chery converting a penalty kick awarded following a lengthy video review for a handball by Benfica defender Alexander Bah inside the area.

Petar Musa put Benfica ahead with another header in the 59th, Alejandro Grimaldo added to the lead by converting a free kick 10 minutes later, Rafa Silva netted the fourth from inside the area in the 73rd, and Henrique Araújo added a fifth in the 88th.

Benfica had already beaten Haifa at home, and it also defeated Juventus twice while drawing both matches against PSG home and away.

Last-place Haifa, whose only group-stage win this season had come against Juventus at home, was coming off a 7-2 loss at PSG in the previous round.

Benfica’s last defeat on the road was exactly one year ago when it lost 5-2 to Bayern Munich. Its undefeated run on the road was its longest of any of this season’s 32 teams.

Benfica reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League last season, being eliminated by Liverpool.

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