Paris Saint-Germain managed to retain their spot at the top of Group B and will enjoy a home second-leg tie in the last-16 of the Champions League after the turn of the year despite their 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening.
The French capital side endured their second straight defeat across all competitions for the first time in three years, after going down 2-1 to Strasbourg in Ligue 1 on Saturday, as goals from Robert Lewandowski and a Corentin Tolisso brace were enough to overcome Kylian Mbappe-Lottin’s second-half header.
The result means that PSG advance into the knockout rounds top of their respective pile, despite both themselves and the Bavarians finishing on 15 points, due to their better head-to-head record – following Les Parisiens’ 3-0 win over their matchday six opponents in Paris in September.
It was an electric start inside the earsplitting Allianz Arena, with both sides wasting no time in testing one another’s goalkeeper during the early stages.
The first came from the visitors, who struck an extremely focused pose as the Champions League anthem echoed around the Bavarian stadium during the pre-match pleasantries, with Mbappe skipping past David Alaba inside the 18-yard box before forcing Reds custodian Sven Ulreich into a smart save down to his right.
However, moments later, the hosts broke away with pace, but following some intricate link-up play on the edge of the area, PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola was able to smother the ball with ease following a weak attempt.
But, the 24-year-old shot-stopper could do nothing to prevent his side going behind shortly afterwards, as Lewandowski’s quick reactions allowed him to turn the ball home unopposed from inside the six-yard-box.
The danger was initially instigated by on-loan Real Madrid attacker James Rodriguez, whose cross found Alaba before the 25-year-old defender nodded his attempt towards goal.
The PSG defence stood motionless awaiting the official Tarik Ongun’s flag from the far side, however it never came, and their lack of reaction allowed the Poland international to take a touch, swivel and tuck his simple finish home from close range – marking just the second time the visitors had conceded in the competition so far.
Following the opener the majority of play was condensed into the middle of the park, with the intensity, in terms of challenges, stepping up a notch, providing a truly tense atmosphere in what was dubbed a dead rubber fixture.
However, just moments following the half-hour mark the visitors managed to finally work possession through the until-then solid red defensive wall, allowing Neymar his first real sniff at Ulreich’s net.
Mbappe and the Brazilian’s lightning one-two on the left-hand side of the area afforded the world’s most expensive player a rare sight in behind the Bayern back-four, however the 25-year-old could not assert enough curl on his attempt to beat the left-hand post.
Following the ball trickling wide the former Barcelona star cut a disgruntled and frustrated figure, however was forced to rue his missed opportunity even more so less than five minutes later as Tolisso doubled Bayer’s advantage.
Once again James was crucially involved after eventually receiving possession on the left flank following his French defensive midfield teammate initiating the attack.
The Colombian, as he had done all evening, delivered yet another sensational cross into the PSG area, this time finding the head of the onrushing 23-year-old, whose bulleted attempt found the bottom left-hand corner of Areola’s net, allowing his side to head into half-time with a two-goal advantage.
But despite the Bavarians’ dominance during the opening 45, following the break it took Unai Emery’s side less than five minutes to grab one back, as Mbappe turned his headed attempt past Ulreich to halve the France capital outfit’s deficit.
Marco Verratti started the stunning move by lifting his pass into the feet of Edinson Cavani, who found himself marked touch-tight by the Bayern defence inside the area.
However, the Uruguay international was able to delightfully flick his through ball over the Reds defence into the path of the world’s most expensive teenage, who did not need a second invitation to nod his effort home and all-but secure Group B’s top spot for Les Parisiens.
But after the visitors managed to drag themselves back into the clash of the European superpowers, they struggled to really convert their dominance in possession and pressure into anything tangible.
As was the case in the first-half, the Ligue 1 leaders then felt the full brunt of their lack on conviction in the final third, as Tolisso extended Jupp Heynckes’ side’s advantage to two again after lacing home his shot from inside the area.
Kingsley Coman started the quick attack, as the 21-year-old breezed past Dani Alves’ defensive efforts on the left-hand side, before surging towards goal and teeing up Carlo Ancelotti’s summer signing, who dispatched his effort from the centre of the box to re-establish the Bundesliga outfit’s advantage.
As the final minutes drifted away, the hosts continued to press for their fourth and fifth of the evening which would have seen them top the group, but no more goals were forthcoming.
Bayern now face an away second-leg in the round of 16, and will find out who joins Manchester United, Roma and Barcelona as their potential opponents following the turn of the year.