By Sedara Oluwadara
Nuno Mendes scored the winning goal within moments of coming on as a second-half substitute as Paris Saint-Germain beat Juventus 2-1 in Turin on Wednesday but the French side missed out on top spot in Champions League Group H in dramatic fashion to a rampant Benfica.
PSG and Benfica were both through to the last 16 before their final group games and sat level on points having drawn both of their meetings 1-1.
However, the Parisians’ goal difference was superior by four, meaning victory in Italy against an already-eliminated Juventus looked set to be enough to secure a theoretically easier tie in next Monday’s last-16 draw.
Mendes duly netted the decisive goal midway through the second half after Kylian Mbappe’s stunning opener had been cancelled out by Leonardo Bonucci.
Yet the biggest drama was unfolding in Israel, where Benfica scored five second-half goals to beat Maccabi Haifa 6-1.
A Goncalo Ramos opener for the Portuguese side was cancelled out by a Tjaronn Chery penalty in the 26th minute, but Petar Musa put Benfica back ahead just before the hour.
Alex Grimaldo and Rafa Silva added further goals and Henrique Araujo made it five in the 88th minute, before Joao Mario sealed a sensational win in the second added minute.
That goal proved crucial – Benfica and PSG finished tied on points, head to head, goal difference, and goals scored.
Benfica topped the group thanks to their greater number of goals scored away from home.
That means PSG – beaten by Real Madrid in the last 16 last season – are now exposed to the likes of Bayern Munich, Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City in the draw.
Benfica, meanwhile, could still face Liverpool, who knocked them out in the quarterfinals last season