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Mauricio Pochettino, Karim Benzema react to Real’s stunning comeback vs PSG

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola discuss what has been a hectic battle for the fourth spot in the Premier League between Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and West Ham.

Karim Benzema, for some serious off-field warts, is a phenomenal finisher.

Now whose PSG career might he have finished with a hat trick in Real Madrid’s 3-1 second-leg win in Spain on Wednesday. Kylian Mbappe? Neymar? Mauricio Pochettino?

[ MORE: Real, Man City take different routes to UCL quarters ]

Real trailed 1-0 after 90 minutes and Benzema admitted the Spanish league leaders were fortunate it wasn’t worse. Then it was when Kylian Mbappe made it 2-0 on aggregate.

But Benzema scored a 17-minute hat trick to lift the half-filled Bernabeu into ecstasy and send PSG away from another UEFA Champions League season without its recent reason for existence.

“In the first leg, we have to say we were lucky to leave there only losing 1-0, but we knew it would be different in Madrid,” Benzema said after making more Champions League history on Wednesday as the oldest hat trick scorer in UCL history.

34 - At the age of 34 years and 80 days, Karim Benzema has become the oldest player to score a UEFA Champions League hat-trick, taking the mantle from Olivier Giroud. There were just 106 seconds between the Frenchman’s second and third goals this evening. Goosebumps.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 9, 2022

Mauricio Pochettino reaction and projection: What will loss mean?

Pochettino’s hiring by PSG was supposed to be the one that took the club from the precipice to the pedestal.

Les Parisiens found the European Cup Final under Thomas Tuchel but fired the now-Chelsea boss after an underwhelming start to the 2020-21 season.

Pochettino’s PSG still made it to the semifinals last season but failed to win Ligue 1. Pochettino has righted the domestic ship, but a Round of 16 exit was not what anyone expected and could help spell the end for a manager linked with Manchester United’s impending open manager’s position.
“The first goal completely changed the game,” Pochettino. “For an hour, we were better than Real Madrid. The atmosphere changed in the stadium. We made some mistakes after that, we can’t say we didn’t. The worst feeling is that we were the better side, but we lost the tie in 10 minutes.”

“Paris St-Germain have been chasing the Champions League for a number of years now. I’m really disappointed, upset – but these things can happen. The next few weeks are not going to be easy.”

They sure won’t, but even with some injuries the arrows will be aimed at the top.

Pochettino was given Neymar, Mbappe, and Lionel Messi plus an array of talented players and the reigning EURO 2020 Player of the Tournament (who admittedly made a huge error on Wednesday).

Will it sully his reputation? Maybe, as this failure is at least as shocking as the positive surprise he posted by leading Tottenham to a UCL final, isn’t it?

Follow @NicholasMendola