Mbappe and Messi celebrate. AP/PA Images

PSG's deadly front three all score as Benfica sink dismal Juve to win 12th straight match

Meanwhile, Real Madrid left it late to beat RB Leipzig.

LIONEL MESSI, KYLIAN Mbappe and Neymar all scored as Paris Saint-Germain came from a goal down to win 3-1 at Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday and make it two wins from two in the Champions League group stage.

Tjaronn Chery gave Haifa a surprise lead but Messi equalised before the break by scoring for an 18th consecutive season in the Champions League.

PSG finished off their impressive hosts with an improved performance in the last half-hour as Mbappe and Neymar found the net.

The Qatari-backed club are now top of Group H on goals scored above Benfica, who won 2-1 at Juventus.

Haifa threatened a shaky PSG defence throughout the game, but the Ligue 1 giants passed the test thanks to their front three.

Paris, still searching for a maiden Champions League title, go into home and away matches against Benfica knowing that two wins would secure a place in the knock-out stage.

PSG could have taken the lead inside 70 seconds as Mbappe burst into the box, only to see his effort denied by a sprawling save from home goalkeeper Josh Cohen.

Mbappe spurned another excellent chance as he got in behind the Haifa defence again but took a heavy touch.

The Israelis grew into the game and took a shock 24th-minute lead as Dolev Haziza was given time and space to whip in a cross which was volleyed home by Suriname international Chery.

Haifa briefly thought they had scored again when Frantzdy Pierrot put the ball in the net, but the flag was raised for offside.

PSG dragged themselves level eight minutes before the break, as Mbappe’s low cross was deflected perfectly to Messi who slotted the ball past Cohen from close range.

Haifa kept pushing for a deserved half-time advantage, but Omer Atzili dragged a shot wide and visiting ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made a flying save to tip away Chery’s long-range strike.

PSG continued to struggle at the start of the second period, but gradually improved and Messi forced Cohen into a excellent low stop in the 65th minute.

The French champions forged ahead for the first time four minutes later, as Messi slipped a pass through for Mbappe to slide a shot into the far corner.

Haifa kept pushing for an equaliser, but just seconds after Chery blazed a free-kick over, PSG countered and Neymar fired the ball into the bottom corner to complete the scoring.

Benfica took their winning run to 12 matches with Wednesday’s 2-1 triumph at Juventus which put them level with PSG.

Roger Schmidt’s team have a perfect six points from their first two matches after coming back from Arkadiusz Milik’s early opener thanks to a Joao Mario penalty and David Neres’ strike nine minutes after half-time.

The Portuguese league leaders have won every match they have played this season and are already six points ahead of Juve and Maccabi Haifa.

Boos and whistles rang out around the Allianz Stadium after another deeply disappointing display from Juve, whose coach Massimiliano Allegri will be under even more pressure from disgruntled supporters.

juventus-fc-vs-sl-benfica Benfica celebrate their equaliser. Alessandro Di Marco Alessandro Di Marco

Allegri had said that the two matches with Benfica would be the key to whether Juve made it to the knockout rounds and on the evidence of Wednesday night they have their work cut out.

The hosts got off to a flying start through Milik, whose perfectly-placed header from Leandro Paredes’ free-kick opened the scoring.

Poland forward Milik’s third goal of the season was eerily reminiscent of his last-minute winner against Salernitana at the weekend which was wrongly chalked for offside, and came after an opening flurry from Juve which turned out to be empty promise.

As the half wore on Benfica grew into the game and were unlucky not to be level in the 39th minute when Rafa Silva had all the time in the world to curl in a long-range effort which clipped the post.

But they were all square two minutes before the break after Fabio Miretti was caught bringing down Goncalo Ramos following a VAR check and on-field review from referee Felix Zwayer.

Joao Mario, formerly of Juve’s biggest rivals Inter Milan, relished the chance to smash home from the spot and then goaded the home fans, who had more reason to be angry after the restart.

Whistles began to creep around the stadium heading towards half-time and they got louder in the 55th minute when, after Rafa Silva’s shot was well saved by Mattia Perin, Neres lashed in off the rebound.

Juve would have been even further behind had it not been for Perin and Leonardo Bonucci, who both had to be at the best to stop a clutch of efforts from Benfica’s marauding forwards.

Juve pushed back in the final stages, Moise Kean having a deflected effort hit the post before Gleison Bremer somehow smashed over from close range with three minutes remaining.

But that was all Juve could muster and the whistles reached a crescendo once Zwayer ended proceedings and Benfica continued their remarkable run of results.

And late strikes from Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio’s ensured Real Madrid maintained their 100% start to the campaign with a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig.

It threatened to be a frustrating night for the record 14-time winners and reigning champions until Valverde finally provided the breakthrough, continuing his fine recent form and celebrating emphatically in front of a relieved Santiago Bernabeu after netting in the 80th minute.

Substitute Asensio then slammed home the second in stoppage time after Toni Kroos pulled a short free-kick back to the edge of the box. That wrapped up the win and kept Madrid top of Group F on six points, ahead of Shakhtar Donestsk on four.

Tonight’s Champions League results

Group A

  • Rangers 0-3 Napoli

Group E

  • AC Milan 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb
  • Chelsea 1-1 Red Bull Salzburg

Group F

  • Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Celtic
  • Real Madrid 2-0 RB Leipzig

Group G

  • FC Copenhagen 0-0 Sevilla
  • Manchester City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Group H

  • Maccabi Haifa 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain
  • Juventus 1-2 Benfica.

– © AFP 2022

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