NNA - Paris Saint-Germain’s attacking might overwhelmed Red Star Belgrade 6-1 in the Champions League Wednesday, with Neymar netting a hat-trick that included two brilliant free kicks. PSG coach Thomas Tuchel went with his strongest lineup up front with Neymar, World Cup star Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. They all scored in the first half except for Mbappe, who had to wait until the 70th minute for his goal following superb approach play from Neymar.
“I really liked the fact it was a team effort tonight, but Neymar was outstanding. He was just sensational, magnificent,” Tuchel said.
“You can sense that he’s hungry, that he wants to make the difference and win the ball back.”
Red star coach Vladan Milojevic acknowledged his defense could not cope with Neymar. “It wouldn’t be fair just to talk about Neymar, but everything revolved around him,” he said. “He’s on another level.”
After losing their opening group game to Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain played with the kind of intensity that has sometimes been lacking against weaker teams in past seasons, where they have failed to get beyond the quarterfinals of the competition despite huge expenditure on players and wages.
“It was a really top performance because we created a lot of chances. But also we won 71 percent of our tackles in the first half, which was extraordinary,” Tuchel said. “I was most pleased with the second half because we kept going.”
Neymar, who scored twice in the French league last weekend, opened the scoring with his first free kick after 20 minutes. The Brazil star hardly took a run-up and used his exquisite touch to perfectly flight the ball into the left corner.
Two minutes later, he added his second. Swapping passes with Mbappe, he sprinted into the penalty area to meet the teenager’s quick cross from the right with a finish into the roof of the net.
Cavani beat two players before scoring with a deflected shot in the 37th, and Di Maria astutely guided in the fourth shortly before the break.
Neymar created the fifth in style.
He showed great close control to dribble to the edge of the area, and then cleverly flicked a ball over the defense. Left-back Bernat read the pass and cut the ball back to give Mbappe an easy tap in.
After Mbappe missed a sitter his second of the night Red Star’s midfielder Marko Marin rifled a shot home in the 74th.
Neymar went off to a standing ovation with about 10 minutes left, just after curling in even better free kick into the top right corner.
Red Star’s defeat could have been heavier but Mbappe, midfielder Adrien Rabiot and even Neymar all missed good chances.
PSG have won nine of 10 games this season, scoring 35 goals. But the 3-2 loss at Liverpool serves as a reminder they have trouble winning the big games. ---Associated Press