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Rampant PSG rock Barca with blistering performance to leave Catalan giants facing exit door

PSG 4-0 Barcelona

By Paul Burrows

Angel Di Maria produced two sublime finishes as Paris St Germain thrashed Barcelona 4-0 at the Parc des Princes, leaving the La Liga giants facing elimination in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The result equalled Barca's worst in Europe, last achieved by Bayern Munich at the semi-final stage four years ago, but could easily have been worse as they were outfought, outrun and outclassed.

Former Real Madrid playmaker Di Maria opened the scoring with a fine free-kick on his 29th birthday and curled home a second in between efforts from Julian Draxler and another birthday boy, 30-year-old Edinson Cavani.

Barca's garlanded side were flat from the off, with the likes of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique reduced to bystanders by a lean, focused PSG display.

When the sides reconvene for the second leg at the Nou Camp, even their very best may not now be good enough to save the tie.

The home side took control of proceedings quickly, dictating the tempo and probing at the edges of the Barcelona defence.

Sergi Roberto needed to be alert to block Cavani's shot after Di Maria's incisive ball over the top and Marc-Andre ter Stegen was twice required in the first 10 minutes.

The pressure told in the 17th minute after Draxler coaxed a foul from Samuel Umtiti just outside the box. Di Maria struck the ball beautifully, getting his effort up and down in time to leave Ter Stegen no chance.

It took Barca time to respond but when they did, thanks to Neymar's powerful run and pass, it was nearly 1-1. With Neymar drawing defenders towards him Andre Gomes found room on the overlap, collecting a measured pass only to see goalkeeper Kevin Trapp divert his shot wide.

A Barca break, predictably orchestrated by Neymar, left them exposed on the counter and PSG came close to a second in the 33rd minute when Draxler breezed past Roberto and struck at the near post. Ter Stegen, flinging a glove to his right, made the save.

They deservedly doubled their advantage before half-time after an off-colour Messi coughed up possession to Adrien Rabiot in midfield. Veratti advanced at speed and when he switched the play to Draxler 12 yards out, the German buried his shot.

It took the hosts just under 10 minutes of the second period to score again, this time building from the back. Di Maria was the ultimate target and he was inexplicably allowed to cut in from the right and bend a left-footed effort into the corner.

The fourth felt inevitable and was threatened on several occasions before Thomas Meunier sauntered upfield and slotted in Cavani. With Pique failing to get tight enough, the striker calmly dispatched his shot past Ter Stegen.

Umtiti somehow headed against the post from a yard as the lifeline of an away goal evaporated but Luis Enrique's humbled outfit might easily have walked away with an even more damaging defeat.

• Borussia Dortmund missed a second-half penalty en route to a 1-0 defeat at Benfica.

Kostas Mitroglou scored the only goal of the game before Ederson - who had an inspired night between the posts for the Portuguese side - saved Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 58th minute penalty.

Belfast Telegraph


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