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Mbappe nets as PSG bag early advantage past Sociedad in UCL 16

Kylian Mbappe continued his impressive Champions League form by scoring once again, while emerging winger Bradley Barcola notched his first goal in the competition as Paris Saint-Germain secured a 2-0 victory over Real Sociedad in the first leg of the round of 16 on Tuesday.

Mbappe, 25, who joined PSG in 2017 for a record-breaking fee of 180 million euros ($193 million), has now scored an impressive 243 goals for the club. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Barcola, who arrived from Lyon for 50 million euros, is starting to make a name for himself with his skill and composure on the field.

“I’m really happy tonight,” Barcola said. “It’s a childhood dream come true.”

However, Sociedad dominated the game for long spells despite missing key players through injury, until Mbappe’s goal in the 58th minute.

The breakthrough came when Marquinhos headed on Ousmane Dembele’s corner from the right, and Mbappe was unmarked at the back post to volley in.

“That’s where we lose control of the game,” Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil said. “We can’t allow that to happen.”

A few minutes later, Mbappe’s strike from the edge of the penalty area was tipped onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Alex Remiro.

Remiro was beaten again in the 70th minute when the speedy Barcola broke down the left, skipped past right back Hamari Traore with ease and poked the ball in – prompting coach Luis Enrique to jump off the bench to celebrate.

Sociedad went scoreless for a fifth straight game in all competitions.

“We managed to score at key moments in the game. We have a good lead,” Mbappe told broadcaster Canal Plus. “The clean sheet is important for us, we’ve been looking for that in the Champions League, although it’s true that they (Sociedad) have not been scoring much at the moment.”

There was relief, too, that Mbappe lasted the whole game.

Mbappe’s sore left ankle kept him on the bench for Saturday’s French league game, but he showed no ill effects when he latched onto Dembele’s pass and forced a save in the sixth minute.

After that chance, however, PSG’s intensity dropped right off.

Even though Alguacil was without goal-scoring midfielder Mikel Oyarzabal and left back Kieran Tierney, the intensity and organization of Sociedad’s high pressing pushed PSG back at a subdued Parc des Princes.

Andre Silva glanced a header wide and captain Mikel Merino struck the crossbar with a superb dipping shot from 25 meters moments before the break.

“It’s evident that we had trouble getting out of their pressing game in the first half. We should have shown more character to get out of it, as we were eight (players) against six,” Mbappe said. “The return leg will be more open, they will attack more and we will be given more space. If we get the space over 40 meters, I think we will score over there.”

Marquinhos said Enrique gave the players a stern talking-to at the break.

“He was very angry in the dressing room, and that’s good,” Marquinhos said. “It’s important for the team. He managed to motivate us to bring the ball out more from the back.”

Mbappe’s goal then took the pressure off his teammates and allowed Barcola more freedom to attack.

Despite huge spending, PSG has been eliminated from the last 16 five times in the past seven seasons.

However, a quarterfinal place seems within reach, heading to San Sebastián for the return leg on March 5.

In the other last-16 game, veteran striker Ciro Immobile’s penalty gave Lazio a 1-0 win against Bayern Munich.

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