'Nobody could've imagined that!' – Galtier 'proud' despite PSG being pipped by Benfica in astonishing fashion

By Sports Desk November 03, 2022

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier was "proud" despite his team being astonishingly beaten to top spot in Champions League Group H by Benfica, an outcome that left captain Marquinhos frustrated.

Goals from Kylian Mbappe and Nuno Mendes at Juventus, either side of Leonardo Bonucci's equaliser, on Wednesday seemed to have Galtier's side on course to win the group courtesy of a 2-1 triumph.

However, Benfica scored five unanswered second-half goals at Maccabi Haifa to win 6-1, with Joao Mario's 92nd-minute effort snatching first place on away goals scored.

PSG and Benfica could not be separated by their head-to-head record, goals scored or conceded, making the away goals scored tie-breaker a Champions League first.

Finishing second means the Ligue 1 champions will face one of the group winners in the last 16, but Galtier generally seemed content, acknowledging how unusual and unfortunate it was to be pipped in such fashion.

"Of course, we have to value our campaign," he told reporters. "We beat Juventus twice, we got 14 points, we scored a lot of goals and in the end we finished second on the number of goals scored away from home, and that's how it is.

"But obviously I'm still very proud of my group, of my team in this group stage. We had a tough match, we knew we were going to have a difficult match, but we still managed to win, and then there is this scenario [Benfica scoring their sixth goal] that happens in the 92nd minute.

"Nobody could have imagined that. We finished second on the number of goals scored away from home. That's incredible."

But Marquinhos was rather more subdued as he struggled to hide his irritation despite claiming he was attempting to be optimistic.

"We're trying to take the positives out of it," he told reporters. "There were obviously two feelings, because we won against Juve in a difficult match, but we finished second, whereas the aim was to get this first place. Unfortunately, we didn't succeed.

"You have to look at the good aspects of things, there are good things to take away from this group stage, even if there are things to improve.

"In the Champions League, this first phase was important, but it is really played out in the second half of the season.

"That's when we have to perform well, be decisive, be good, because it's all about the end of the season."

Nevertheless, Marquinhos did value PSG's ability to see out an important win against a big club even though their performance was hardly spectacular.

"We have already seen teams win without necessarily being the best or playing the most beautiful football, but knowing how to be effective," he continued. "If we manage to be effective in these decisive moments, we can do great things.

"Even if there were difficult moments in this match, we managed to score and that unlocks a match. So, when we win a match like this, even if it wasn't our best game, we have to tell ourselves that it's important to know how to play like that too."

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