IMAGES from the Champions League matches played on Tuesday.
Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe scored a stunning hat-trick as his side overcame the absence of Neymar to thrash Barcelona 4-1 away in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday to move within full view of the quarter-finals.
Lionel Messi had blasted Barca ahead with a penalty in the first half but Mbappe pulled the French champions level with a classy piece of control and finishing to complete a flowing team move also involving Marco Verratti and Layvin Kurzawa.
Mbappe, who had not scored in the Champions League knockouts for two years before Tuesday, smashed PSG into the lead in the 65th minute while Moise Kean took advantage of some woeful Barca marking to head in a third goal for the visitors in the 70th.
The insatiable Mbappe looked hungry for more though and, after being denied his third goal by Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, he completed his treble in the 85th minute by curling the ball past the German into the top corner.
“We wanted to come here and win and we did that in style,” said the 22-year-old France striker. “Tonight was magnificent, but we haven’t won anything yet.”
Barca overcame a 4-0 defeat to PSG in a last-16 first leg in 2017 by winning the second leg at home 6-1 and the Catalans now face another daunting task in turning this tie around when they visit the Parc des Princes on March 10.
Barca coach Ronald Koeman had no complaints about the heavy defeat and was pessimistic about the prospects of another turnaround.
“The result reflect how superior PSG were, they were much more effective than us,” said the Dutchman.
“I could tell you lies but the fact is that at 4-1 down from the home leg, there are very few chances of going through.”
Barca’s last Champions League knockout game was their humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in last year’s quarter-finals but they went into Tuesday’s game on the back of seven La Liga wins in a row and were boosted by the return of serial winner Gerard Pique in defence after nearly three months out.
Yet they were utterly blown away by Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who in addition to missing former Barca forward Neymar were also without influential winger Angel di Maria.
Mauro Icardi should have given last year’s runners-up the lead when he strolled through on goal but the Argentine scuffed his shot and Barca’s teenage midfielder Pedri recovered to clear.
The hosts then got a lucky break when Frenkie de Jong was accidentally tripped by Layvin Kurzawa and Messi smashed his penalty beyond former Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas to score a fourth goal in this season’s competition, all from spot-kicks.
PSG responded emphatically with their classy team goal after 32 minutes and should have gone ahead before the break when Kurzawa was thwarted by a fingertip save from Ter Stegen and Icardi headed just wide from a corner.
Barca had their moments too, Antoine Griezmann showing exceptional pace to sprint towards goal from the halfway line but landing his shot just wide of the far post.
The second half belonged to PSG though, and no player symbolised their confidence better than the resplendent Mbappe, who became the first player to score a visiting hat-trick at the Camp Nou since Andriy Shevchenko in 1997.
“I’ve always wanted to give the best of myself with PSG, this shirt means a lot to me,” added the Frenchman.
“It’s a shirt that means a lot to me. I haven’t always succeeded and maybe I’ll have bad games, but I’ve never been someone to hide, even if I make mistakes.”
Liverpool stun Leipzig 2-0 to snap losing run
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were on target to snap a three-match losing run as their side stunned RB Leipzig 2-0 in the Champions League Round of 16 first-leg on Tuesday.
Juergen Klopp has written off his team’s chances of winning back-to-back Premier League titles after they lost three successive domestic matches but they are alive in Europe.
They gained a clear advantage in their tie going into the March 10 return leg thanks to two blunders by Leipzig.
Salah easily intercepted a back pass by Leipzig’s Marcel Sabitzer to put the Reds ahead in the 53rd minute and on course for their first win in any competition since late January.
Mane then pounced on another mistake when Nordi Mukiele failed to clear a long ball five minutes later, leaving the Germans stunned in Budapest’s Puskas Arena where the game had been relocated due to COVID-19 restrictions in Germany.
“It was an important game for us, a tough game,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said.
“Keeping a clean sheet was important for us.
“We just want to keep going and keep fighting every time we play. There have been a lot of difficult situations throughout the season, but we’ve just got to take each game as it comes and take things one step at a time.
“A good win but it’s only half the job done,” he added.
The Germans had the better start and Dani Olmo’s downward header in the fifth minute bounced off the base of the post.
With Leipzig defending high, Liverpool initially tried to slice through with deep crosses and one of them found Salah in the 15th but his chip was blocked by keeper Peter Gulacsi.
Andy Robertson then tried his luck with an audacious 40-metre lob that almost caught Gulacsi out of position but the Reds had to wait until Salah capitalised with their first chance of the second half.
Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann then saw his players gift another goal with Mukiele’s error and Mane’s crisp finish.
The Germans, who came into the match on a four-game winning run in all competitions, were largely toothless in attack following the goals until Tyler Adam’s miss in stoppage time.
“In the return leg we have to pick up where we left off. Then we will have chances,” Sabitzer said, adding that Leipzig had played a good game apart from the two errors.
“It would be better if we had scored but we believe that we have the quality,” he added.
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