PSG were forced to work hard against an inspired Maccabi Haifa side in their UEFA Champions League clash at the Sammy Ofer Stadium.

French champions Paris Saint-Germain were given the fright of their lives in Israel as Maccabi Haifa nearly put them to the sword in the Matchday 2 fixture of the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League.

Christophe Galtier’s side went into the tie unbeaten this season and have, more often than not, looked nigh on unsurmountable. Maccabi Haifa remained unfazed and took the game to the visitors, putting them under siege from the kick-off.

Tjaronn Chery put the home side ahead with an unstoppable strike, stunning Galtier and co. Maccabi Haifa piled on the pressure and looked to have gained a 2-0 lead courtesy of Abu Fani but saw the goal ruled out.

PSG hung on and eventually turned the tie around thanks to their indomitable attacking three in the second half. Lionel Messi was the star behind the visitors’ fightback and drew them level before the break, giving PSG enough impetus to fight back.

Messi linked up well with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, and the trio proved difficult for Maccabi Haifa to pin down. Mbappe gave PSG the lead in the 69th minute before Neymar made certain of all three points with two minutes left.

This is the first time that the French side have won their first two games in the group stage since making the final in the 2019/20 season. Galtier will hope for PSG to go one better this time. Tougher challenges await, but PSG have shown they can dig deep when up against the wall. The Hard Tackle now looks at how the Paris Saint-Germain players fared on the night.

Gianluigi Donnarumma: 5/10

The Italian was a busy man on the night and was called into action several times. While he did make several stops, Donnarumma looked unconvincing and did not inspire confidence at the back. He also looked awkward with the ball at his feet and appeared unsure of how best to make use of it. While his shot-stopping was on point, the overall game leaves much to be desired.

Sergio Ramos: 5/10

The Spanish veteran was caught out a couple of times and was vulnerable when the Maccabi Haifa players ran directly at him. Ramos was the pick of the back three and came out on top more often than not. He was kept busy until the final minute and even made a key clearance in stoppage time as Maccabi Haifa refused to lie down.

Marquinhos: 5/10

The Brazilian was given a tough challenge by Frantzdy Pierrot, who was not afraid to get stuck in. Marquinhos struggled to keep his rival under check and was guilty of some sloppy defensive actions. The PSG captain went close to scoring himself in first-half stoppage time and also made a few good passes to Nordi Mukiele.

Danilo Pereira: 5/10

The 31-year-old came in for Presnel Kimpembe but struggled to keep the Maccabi Haifa attackers quiet. Danilo Pereira came out second best on several occasions and will need to buck up if he needs to hold his own against opposition sides that take the game to him.

Nordi Mukiele: 5/10

The former RB Leipzig star was a bundle of activity down the right flank and linked up well with Marquinhos and Lionel Messi. Mukiele also had a pop at goal himself and could have scored had it not been for Goldberg. He also was put under pressure defensively, coming off worse twice. Mukiele made way for Achraf Hakimi in the 83rd minute.

Marco Verratti: 6/10

This was arguably Verratti’s poorest performance of the season thus far as Maccabi Haifa refused to give him space to breathe in. The Italian international did have his moments, however, and provided the assist for Neymar’s strike that put the result beyond doubt.

Vitinha: 6.5/10

The Portuguese midfielder has settled in well at PSG and is a key cog in Galtier’s system. He remained calm under Maccabi Haifa’s pressure and threaded through passes, keeping PSG alive on the counter. Vitinha’s ability to hold his own prevented the PSG midfield from being overrun, keeping them alive for a second-half fightback.

Nuno Mendes: 6/10

Mendes crafted a couple of early opportunities that both Mbappe and Neymar contrived to miss. He eased off and did not usually run forward with the ball with maximum impact. Mendes was also put under pressure a couple of times and will be thankful it did not prove decisive.

Lionel Messi: 9/10

The Argentine legend was PSG’s standout player on the night and was unfazed by the rival team’s ambitions. Messi equalised for PSG in the first half before assisting Mbappe for his side’s second. Messi’s ability to create something from nothing was well illustrated by the number of opportunities he crafted for his teammates on the night.

Neymar: 5/10

Despite having his moments and scoring, Neymar largely cut a frustrated figure on the field and was not afraid to show it. The Brazilian can do much better and will do well to forget this performance that left much to be desired.

 Kylian Mbappe: 6/10

The Frenchman also looked far from his best and failed to take the game by the scruff of its neck. He lacked the clinical edge in the game but turned up to give PSG the lead in the second half. Mbappe’s inability to put away clear-cut chances could prove detrimental in close games. How he won the man of the match award over Messi is debatable.

SUBSTITUTES

Fabian Ruiz: 6/10

The Spaniard replaced Vitinha in the 74th minute and was a good replacement for the Portuguese star.

Achraf Hakimi: N/A

A late substitute, the Moroccan was booed by the home support for his pro-Palestinian sentiment.

Carlos Soler: N/A

The Spaniard came on in stoppage time as PSG ran down the clock.

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