Neymar’s goal ensures PSG claim crucial win against Liverpool
Neymar scored what proved to be the winning goal as Paris Saint-Germain breathed new life into their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool. This result leaves last season’s runners-up dangerously close to an early exit.
Juan Bernat and Neymar scored to put PSG in control in the first half in the French capital. James Milner’s penalty on the stroke of half-time ensured this pivotal game remained in the balance until the death.
PSG knew a defeat here coupled with an unfavorable result in the night’s other Group C game could see the ambitious Qatar-owned club eliminated already.
Instead it is Liverpool, who are win-less in each of their last five games away from Anfield in the Champions League – who now seem the more likely to miss out on the last 16.
Napoli beat Red Star Belgrade 3-1 on Wednesday. Liverpool now have to win by two goals at home to the Italians in a fortnight if they are to progress.
Such a regression in Europe would be a big blow to Liverpool, even if it could conceivably help Klopp’s side in their fight with Manchester City for the Premier League title.
Meanwhile, PSG head to Belgrade for their last game still needing to win to be certain of advancing. But at least they have their fate in their hands.
PSG had been desperate to get Neymar and Kylian Mbappe back fit for this game after both had picked up injuries on international duty last week.
The Brazilian had come off with a groin problem eight days earlier. He looked in the mood here. Neymar was determined to deliver in PSG’s biggest Champions League game since they were knocked out by Real Madrid last season.
PSG had only won one of their previous seven games in the competition. However, Jurgen Klopp’s side were completely overrun in the opening stages at the Parc des Princes.
Angel di Maria had forced a fine save from Alisson with a speculative, dipping volley. Before Paris went in front in the 13th minute.
Mbappe tried to square for Edinson Cavani, but the ball broke to Bernat. The Spanish left-back swept home on his right foot for his second goal in this season’s competition.
Marco Verratti was running the game in midfield. The Italian was fortunate not to be sent off for a dangerous tackle on Joe Gomez midway through the first half.
PSG survived that let-off and doubled their lead thanks to Neymar.
The world’s most expensive player had been drawing fouls from opponents and whipping up a fervent home crowd. He burst down the left in the 37th minute, combining with Mbappe.
The French World Cup winner crossed low for Cavani, whose attempt was saved by Alisson. Neymar followed in to convert the rebound.
Neymar’s 14th goal of the season should have ensured a comfortable cushion for the hosts at the break. However, Liverpool were gifted a route back into the game in first-half stoppage time.
Di Maria needlessly brought down Sadio Mane just inside the area. Polish referee Szymon Marciniak did not initially give a penalty but then changed his mind. Milner beat Gianluigi Buffon from 12 yards.
Marquinhos thought he had restored PSG’s two-goal lead within two minutes of the second half. The offside flag denied him after he turned in a free-kick.
Understandably given the high stakes, PSG sat back more and more as the game went on. Although they still came closest to scoring again from a Marquinhos header. Their win was fully deserved.
Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp was not pleased with PSG’s Neymar, and his antics throughout the game. He said: “We won the fair play award two times in England and tonight we looked like butchers with the number of yellow cards. It was clever of PSG, especially Neymar. But a lot of other players went down like there was something serious.”
Paris also wore their changed strip last night. Their elegant white Air Jordan kit is easily one of the nicest jerseys in world soccer.