So very late, so very cruel. There were already more than 50 second-half minutes on the clock when PSG launched one final raid down the right.
Newcastle had repelled everything the French champions had thrown at them until that moment but finally and so very unfortunately, the dam broke.
Should a player really be penalised when a ball rebounds off his own body and up on to his arm? It always looks and feels very wrong.
But that was the fate that befell Tino Livramento here and after a VAR check, Polish referee Szymon Marciniak awarded a penalty that Kylian Mbappe placed high to Nick Pope’s left to give PSG a draw that had seemed beyond them for so much of this frenzied night.
Newcastle were magnificent here. Eddie Howe’s team had already beaten PSG 4-1 in this competition this season. That was a heck of statement. But that was back in early October, a time when Newcastle were running hot on momentum, energy and adrenaline.
Newcastle were heartbroken in Paris as they left with a 1-1 draw after a controversial penalty
Kylian Mbappe’s calmly dispatched effort ensured the hosts snatch a point that keeps their Champions League hopes in their own hands
Debate will rage over whether Tino Livramento should have been penalised for a handball after it ricocheted off his chest first
The Newcastle that came to Paris for this one were bottom of their Champions League group and down on bodies. Howe put teenager Lewis Miley in his team and two goalkeepers and two more academy kids on his bench. Had he not done so, it would have been pretty much empty down there in the cold.
But still Newcastle almost won this game. If their dismantling of the French champions at St James’ Park was awe-inspiring and memorable then so was this display, just for different reasons.
The goal scored by their striker Alexander Isak in the first half was Newcastle’s first away strike in this competition for 20 years and somehow it was almost enough to see them prevail.
Newcastle weathered a heck of a second half storm. The save Pope made from Bradley Barcola in the 66th minute was one of the best of his career. In the moments before the penalty meanwhile, Mbappe himself could have scored twice. His first shot struck Pope’s chest and his follow up missed the far post by a foot. There were other desperately close moments too.
Eddie Howe’s side had repelled everything the French champions had thrown at them
Alexander Isak had put the Magpies in front in the first half – their first away strike in this competition for 20 years
Nick Pope provided several key interventions to preserve Newcastle’s advantage in Paris
So PSG will feel they deserved a point that puts their destiny in the group back in their own hands. They probably did.
Newcastle, meanwhile, are a team that continue to grow and this was a result born of commitment, hard work and organisation. Miley is only 17 and is quite a story. He was magnificent. But so too were Miguel Almiron and left back Livramento. So was the Brazilian midfielder Joelinton who must have run his legs to water but was somehow still standing at the end.
Humiliated on Tyneside and ridiculed by their supporters and media thereafter, PSG began as though they had some bad memories to erase pretty quickly.
Three times in the first 10 minutes, PSG could have scored. Pope was only asked to make a save on one of those occasions, though, and that proved to be a pattern throughout a first half that changed in complexion the longer it wore on.
Newcastle were resolute in their organisation — 4-3-3 quickly becoming 4-5-1 when out of possession — and they were prepared to work hard too. On nights like this there is no other way.
Slowly they began to find a route through and round the home team’s midfield, and when they did their own quick playersstarted to trouble PSG. Having weathered the early blast of PSG power, Newcastle should have scored in the 12th minute. Almiron robbed Hakimi of the ball on the left and when he crossed to the near post, Isak should have done better than shoot over from about six yards out. Twelve minutes later, Isak did score.
Once again, direct running and pace was instrumental as Livramento drove hard across the pitch and laid the ball off to Almiron. The Paraguayan took a touch inside and curled a shot to the far side.
Gianluigi Donnarumma really should have saved it easily. But somehow he only palmed it away and Isak rammed the ball in with as much surprise as glee.
After a VAR review, referee Szymon Marciniak awarded the contentious penalty against Livramento
Mbappe placed the spot kick high to Pope’s left to put PSG in charge of their European fate
By half-time, PSG had started to impose themselves a little again and should really have equalised just before the whistle. Mbappe’s low cross put the ball on a plate for Dembele nine yards out but his shot struck Fabian Schar in the face.
PSG would happily have played a few extra first-half minutes as their momentum was starting to build again. As it was they spent the opening 20 minutes of the second half back in Newcastle territory and really should have found a way back into the game by the time it reached the final third.
Pope saved well from Dembele as the Frenchman was played clear in the 56th minute. But it was after PSG boss Luis Enrique made two changes on the hour that his team started to apply real pressure.
Twice within a minute, substitute Barcola should have scored. The chance laid on for the 21-year-old by Mbappe in the 66th seemed unmissable. Barcola was a matter of yards from goal with all of it to aim at. Pope’s save — low with his right hand — was superb but really the Newcastle goalkeeper should not have had a chance.
Newcastle may debate the penalty but they should not allow that to cloud their heroic display
A minute later Barcola was in again. This time the chance was harder as he was played clear down the left channel. It seemed he had to drive the ball across goal towards Pope’s far post but inexplicably he chose the near and found only the side netting.
This famous stadium was alive again now as the home support sensed a rescue mission. They had a lifeline almost immediately as Hakimi fell in the penalty area under a Gordon challenge and the referee was asked to stop play while VAR had a look. But nothing was given and so the PSG siege of the Newcastle goal went on.
From that point on, PSG opportunities arrived regularly. Dembele missed another at the near post while Mbappe fell to his knees after his late double failed to bring him what he and his team needed so badly.Mbappe was to get one final chance, though, and he was unlikely to miss it.
Newcastle may debate the penalty but they should not allow that to cloud their recollections of this night. Progress in Europe often comes in small steps and this was another.