Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane refused to criticise his side after they threw away a two-goal lead as Paris St Germain fought back to secure a dramatic draw in their Champions League clash at the Bernabeu.
Los Blancos were already secure of qualification to the knockout stage from Group A following the 1-1 draw between Brugge and Galatasaray in Tuesday’s earlier kick-off.
In-form forward Karim Benzema put Real ahead before PSG saw a first-half penalty and red card for Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois overturned on VAR review.
Benzema made it 2-0 with a header in the 79th minute – but Kylian Mbappe swiftly bundled in a scrappy close-range effort to reignite the tie before substitute Pablo Sarabia lashed in a dramatic equaliser.
Substitute Gareth Bale – embroiled in another country-versus-club row over the international break – came on for the injured Eden Hazard, who could now be a doubt for Real’s next El Classico clash with Barcelona on December 18 after sustaining an ankle injury.
The Wales forward then almost snatched a winner for the hosts in stoppage time when his curling free-kick hit the post.
The result means PSG – previously unbeaten without conceding a goal – will progress as group winners, regardless of the final round of European fixtures.
“I liked everything, completely, and everyone. We stayed with the game we played and we kept growing. The players deserved to win,” Zidane said.
“It has been a display of a great game, not only for us, but they have also played very well.
“You have to be happy with the game. Then with the result you can not be happy.
“But you have to be happy with what we did for 80 or 85 minutes – if we play like this, I sign for it every day.”
Zidane told a press conference: “It was total football, playing very well and creating chances.
“Sometimes football is a bit cruel, but we accept it. I keep all the good we did.
“We must also thank the fans who have supported us from the beginning. I had fun, I imagine them too.”
Zidane, though, expressed concerns over Hazard’s fitness, with the showdown against Barcelona on the horizon.
“It is more than a simple blow to the ankle, it is and a twist as well,” the Real Madrid coach said.
“Hopefully it will be okay. I can’t say it right now. They have now gone to do the tests and we will see.”
PSG may well have felt justice was done in the end following the VAR controversy towards the end of the first half.
Courtois had initially been shown a red card for bringing down Mauro Icardi just inside the box and a spot-kick awarded.
However, there was a check by VAR and Portuguese referee Artur Dias chose to take a look at the pitch-side monitor.
He quickly decided Idrissa Gueye had pushed Marcelo in the back, so he promptly chalked off both the penalty and Courtois’ dismissal to award Real Madrid a free-kick instead.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel was less than impressed.
“I thought that rule was only to be used if the referee had made a clear wrong decision. It was not a big mistake,” the German said.
“I do not think that the VAR should have called him at this time.”
Tuchel, though, praised the character of his team to never give up on the result.
“We showed our mentality. We never gave up. After we got the first goal, it was easier for us,” the PSG coach told a press conference.
“It’s possible for us to improve. We have to stay calm. We have 13 points after five games and we have won the group.”