Thursday 19 October 2017

Neymar and Mbappe on the money as PSG give Celtic lesson

Celtic 0 Paris St-Germain 5

PSG strikers (l-r) Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani celebrate after the Brazilian’s opening goal last night. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images
PSG strikers (l-r) Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani celebrate after the Brazilian’s opening goal last night. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Jason Burt

They call it Paradise but it was Paris Saint-Germain who have their Holy Trinity: Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani, Neymar. The MCN.

And the new force in European football rolled over Celtic at Parkhead to open their Champions League campaign and lay down their emphatic marker to be one of the favourites to win the competition this season.

A banner was unfurled proclaiming 'The Celtic Renaissance' but it is the rebirth of PSG that is reverberating around the world with the most expensively-ever assembled strike-force - worth an estimated €500m - each scoring, with Cavani claiming two goals.

At times, they looked simply awesome. Unstoppable. It was supermen against Bhoys. It was almost too easy.

For Celtic, it was a sobering lesson in Group B where they will also face Bayern Munich and Anderlecht and there could be sanctions also after a fan ran on the pitch in the first half and attempted to kick Mbappe.

Thankfully, Mbappe sidestepped him and he missed, by some distance, before being hauled away by stewards.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring his sides second goal. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
PSG's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring his sides second goal. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Celtic came into this with a shudder of apprehension around the 7-0 defeat they suffered away to Barcelona in this competition last season.

But this - they hoped - would be more akin to the rip-roaring 3-3 draw they then achieved, here, against Manchester City.

They wanted to rekindle that spirit, that atmosphere and there was a cry of approval as 18-year-old Anthony Ralston attempted to run at Neymar close to the PSG penalty area.

The tables were soon turned. PSG bristled with intent and then they scored.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar in action with Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar in action with Celtic’s Olivier Ntcham. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

It was met with a cacophony of boos, not just because Neymar, who had annoyed Celtic fans with his comments while at Barcelona, claimed it but because the home side believed there was a trip on Scott Sinclair in the build-up as the ball was turned over and the excellent Adrien Rabiot slid it through.

Neymar ran across Ralston, catching him out, and slotted high beyond goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

This Celtic team cost around €22m to assemble. PSG's line-up? Closer to €622m. But, unlike Celtic, they do not - as yet - get to wear a jersey with a European star on it.

Curling

Thanks to the Lisbon Lions 50 years ago, Celtic do although, given their ambition and investment, it is surely only a matter of time before PSG are also European champions.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Dani Alves in action with Celtic’s Scott Sinclair. Photo: Russell Cheyne/Reuters
Paris Saint-Germain’s Dani Alves in action with Celtic’s Scott Sinclair. Photo: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Thrillingly, Celtic almost immediately struck back with Leigh Griffith's curling free-kick from 25 yards superbly tipped over by goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.

It was a signal for PSG to keep ball. And they do go for the kill. There was pass, pass, pass - and there was one audacious sequence in which they worked their way out of trouble inside their own area while under severe pressure - and then bang.

Neymar headed a cross to Cavani who appeared set to pull the trigger but ended up miskicking only it to run to Mbappe behind him who fired it high into the net from just six yards out.

It was, frankly, too easy. By doing so the 18-year-old became the first ever teenager to score goals for two different clubs in the Champions League.

Celtic' Patrick Roberts challenges Paris Saint-Germain's Adrien Rabiot. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Celtic' Patrick Roberts challenges Paris Saint-Germain's Adrien Rabiot. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

It got worse for Celtic. PSG poured forward again, again another cross went into the area with Jozo Simunovic panicking and bundling over Cavani as he attempted to reach it.

The defender was booked, the penalty given and Cavani had his turn as he calmly stroked the ball high into the corner with Gordon diving the other way. It was all over and all three forwards had scored.

Just on half-time, Sinclair forced another save by Areola with an angled drive and then Ralston forced his way into the area before going over.

No penalty was given and running back the right back thudded into Thiago Motta, was cautioned and turned to the fans to try and whip up the noise even further.

It worked. Certainly there was also a greater physical edge to Celtic, a desire to try and unsettle PSG and close them down more quickly with Sinclair then too easily tricking his way past Marquinhos and into the area only for Areola to block his near-post shot.

PSG should have struck again when substitute Julian Draxler cut the ball back to Neymar but he shot wildly over the crossbar and then they poured forward again.

This time, Neymar picked out Mbappe whose goalbound shot struck Mikael Lustig. There was another miss. And then another from Neymar. Again the ball was played back to him and this time he side-footed it wide.

But a fourth goal did come with a low cross skimming into the area from Draxler which evaded Gordon and rebounded off Lustig and over the line.

That was not all. Cavani, so brilliant in the air, flung himself at the far post to direct an acrobatic diving header from Layvan Kurzawa's bouncing cross back across Gordon and into the net. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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