Leao outshines Mbappe as Milan edge PSG | The Express Tribune



Stefano Pioli said that Rafael Leao could be a world-beater after the inconsistent Portugal winger outshone Kylian Mbappe in AC Milan’s 2-1 Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain.

Leao drew Milan level with an acrobatic overhead kick and terrorised the PSG defence every time he had the ball while France star Mbappe struggled to get into a thrilling game at the San Siro.

Tuesday’s stellar performance came in stark contrast to recent underwhelming displays and helped reignite Milan’s hopes of making it out of Group F.

He put his finger to his lips as a gesture of defiance against criticism of his efforts in a poor run of form for him and the team as a whole which has left Milan six points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan.

“Rafa needs to have another look at his display tonight because how he performs is only down to him,” Pioli told reporters.

“A lot of what was given to him by his parents with the talent he has, and he showed tonight that he has a huge amount of quality.

“If we all play with that same intensity we can have a lot of success.”

Milan started the day bottom of the group with a zero in the goals scored column but are now right back in contention for the last 16 as they trail second-placed PSG by a single point.

“We get unconditional support from the fans even if things are difficult in the league,” said Olivier Giroud, who headed Milan’s winner early in the second half.

“This win gets the group going again… it does us a lot of good.”

Pioli’s players looked comfortable in the biggest match of their season and fully deserved their win, bouncing back from a dismal home defeat by Udinese at the weekend.

“This was the sort of reaction that I expected because I know my players, I know this group. They performed so well, with fantastic attitude,” added Pioli.

“We did what we needed to do… now we need to try to become more consistent. Tonight’s win gives us a better chance and the match with Dortmund will be decisive.”

Luis Enrique lamented a “lack of control” on the part of his players, likening the contest more to a tennis match than a game of football.

“We had chances, we attacked, maybe we helped make the match be crazy, we should have played a football match, not a tennis match,” he said.

“This is the Champions League, the highest level. Sometimes you can be in front and other times it’s the other team. Either team could have won tonight.”

‘We failed,’ says Xavi after Shakhtar defeat

Barcelona slumped to a 1-0 defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, spurning the chance to seal early qualification to the Champions League knock-out stages.

Danylo Sikan’s dipping header in the 40th minute secured Shakhtar a famous victory as Xavi Hernandez’s flat Spanish champions failed to trouble their Ukrainian opponents.

“We can see we’re in a bit of a footballing rut, we have to do a reset,” said Barca coach Xavi.

“We played a bad game, we have to admit it.”

Xavi said his team had wasted a good chance to progress. “After two years without qualifying for the last 16, today is a missed opportunity,” he continued.

“It’s the most inopportune moment. There are a lot of demands (on us), I think that today we couldn’t fail and we failed.”

After failing to progress from the group stage for two seasons running, Barcelona saw this clash as an opportunity to get the job done with two games to spare.

However Shakhtar, playing their home games in Hamburg because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, held their own from the start.


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