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Leagues: UEFA Champions League

Mbappe confident PSG will ‘remain united, determined’ despite Champions League flop


Paris (AFP) – French striker Kylian Mbappe insisted Paris Saint-Germain players would “remain united and determined until the final match of the season” despite another disappointing Champions League elimination.

For the fourth time in six seasons PSG crashed out in the last 16, self-destructing to 13-time European champions Real Madrid on Wednesday in Spain.

PSG were cruising at 2-0 up on aggregate after Mbappe’s 39th-minute strike, the World Cup-winner having also scored the only goal in the first leg.

For an hour the Paris club looked assured of a last-eight berth, but Karim Benzema turned the tie on its head with three goals in 17 minutes as Real swept to a 3-1 win and 3-2 aggregate triumph.

“Difficult time. The Champions League was a big goal for us, but we failed,” wrote the 23-year-old Mbappe on Instagram.

The Champions League has been the main objective coveted by the club’s Qatari owners since buying the club in 2011.

And this season, yet another failure in the elite European competition follows those in the Champions Trophy and the French Cup.

The club have now only Ligue 1 to play for, and their 13-point lead on second-placed Nice makes them almost impossible to catch.

“The season is not over and whatever happens we will remain united and determined until the last match of the season,” added Mbappe.

“Thank you to the fans who support us and who made the trip.”

Meanwhile, Mbappe gave no indication of his future plans, the subject of intense speculation in recent months.

The contract of the former Monaco player, recruited in 2017 for 180 million euros, expires at the end of the season, which allows another club to recruit him on a free transfer.

PSG turned down a reported 200-million-euro ($220 million) offer late last year from Real Madrid.

PSG’s mood wasn’t helped later Thursday when UEFA confirmed that it was opening a disciplinary investigation against club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo after their angry tirade in the referee’s room after the defeat in Madrid.

The procedure is based on the regulations of UEFA which concern “general principles of conduct” as well as “incorrect behaviour of players and officials”, a spokesperson told AFP.

Sources confirmed Al-Khelaifi and Leonardo marched downstairs from their box after the final whistle and that Leonardo was banging on the door of the referee’s room.

Their complaint is believed to have been around Benzema’s first goal, when PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was not awarded a free-kick, despite being pressured by the Real Madrid striker.

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said in his post-match press conference it was a “clear foul” and left the players feeling a “great sense of injustice”.

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