Wake-up call: Mbappé, PSG storm ahead in UCL

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Kylian Mbappé may be on his way out of the French capital, but as long as he’s still in the starting lineup for Paris Saint-Germain, they remain a dangerous team.

The World Cup winner showed why on Tuesday, as he scored a pair of excellent goals in a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad that put PSG back into the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the first time in three seasons.

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“We knew right away that we couldn’t go to sleep,” Mbappé said after the match. “If they had opened the scoring, they would have pushed on with their fans’ backing. We had to dampen their hopes early on.

“That’s what we did, and we’re very happy to be back in the quarterfinals.”

PSG advanced 4-1 on aggregate, with Mbappé also scoring one of the goals in the 2-0 win in the first leg in Paris three weeks ago. ESPN has reported that Mbappé has already told PSG he will not stay with the club after this season, with a move to Real Madrid seeming all but certain.

Despite huge spending to try to win the Champions League for the first time, PSG had been eliminated from the last 16 five times in the last seven seasons, including the last two. They had made the semifinals in 2021 and were runners-up in 2020.

“We wanted to qualify, but we also wanted to win,” Mbappé said. “We had a game plan that was clear, and we managed to score early. We didn’t come under too much pressure, just a little at the end.”

Despite his heroics against Sociedad, Mbappé hadn’t scored in his last two appearances, a pair of draws with Rennes and AS Monaco, and was subbed off in both of those games — a move by Luis Enrique that ESPN sources said did not sit well with his star player.

But Mbappé played through the final whistle on Tuesday and after the game reiterated that there were no issues between the PSG coach and himself.

“There is no problem with him even if people think there is a problem,” Mbappé said. “I have problems, but the coach is not one of them.”

Luis Enrique put it even more succinctly: “I don’t have any problem with any player.”

“He can score 50 goals and give 25 assists with any coach,” the PSG coach added. “For me he is the best player in the world in the final third, unstoppable. Today he also showed he can hold the ball when the game situation required it and then attack the open field.”

With his two strikes against Sociedad, Mbappé became the second-youngest player to reach 45 Champions League goals in group stage and knockout play at 25 years and 76 days. Lionel Messi reached that mark at 24 years and 257 days, and Mbappé now stands at 46 goals.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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