Paris Saint-Germain secured their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages with a rampant 7-2 win over Maccabi Haifa.
On an evening when very little would have been expected from the visitors, PSG respected the opposition and did their best to make it as soon as possible. Lo and behold, they managed to do just that with each of their infamous front three getting on the score sheet. Maccabi pulled one back before the half-time whistle, but Les Parisiens canceled it out on 45 minutes from end to end.
A tenacious display from the visitors earned them another goal early in the second half, but Les Parisiens simply had too much to deal with. Their embarrassment from the raid on the riches proved priceless and they put the game to bed as it dragged on and on.
Smoke from various pyrotechnics engulfed the Parc des Princes and briefly brought the start of the game to a halt after a few minutes. However, neither the delay nor the impromptu fireworks deterred the hosts, who dominated from the start as expected. In the 10th minute, Neymar played Fabian Ruiz with a brilliant pass in the penalty area, but his shot went wide.
Ruiz was back in the box after 20 minutes and played a key role as PSG took the lead. He combined with Mbappe and Messi before the Frenchman got in the way of Messi who brilliantly headed the ball in to make it 1-0.
As Maccabi looked to work their way into the game, Christoph Galtier’s team punished them on the break. Mbappe played a wonderful interchange with Neymar and used a touch of luck to wrap his foot around the loose ball and bend it into the top corner to make it 2-0.
Neymar enjoyed another spectacular night and added a third just minutes after setting up Mbappe, latching on to Messi’s pass and finding the far post. But this goal was canceled out very quickly when Abdoulaye Seck scored from a free kick.
Messi was in the mood tonight and continued to return flights as he packed on a vintage brace, slalomed away from two defenders and tucked in a low shot.
Maccabi simply weren’t going to lie down and Seck headed in a second minute after the break as PSG made a mess defending a corner.
However, Christoph Galtier’s side settled down after a hectic restart and began to take the sting out of the proceedings. Mbappe was yet to get into the act of scoring, but he finally did just after the hour mark, killing off the game changer and slotting the ball into the top corner in the best possible way.
The five quickly became six when Neymar danced to the byline and squared the ball which was deflected by Sean Goldberg for an own goal.
The home side fielded a fearsome set-up and Messi looked back at his superhuman self. He wasn’t done with the brace and put the ball on the plate for Carlos Soler to make it 7-1 in the closing stages, securing his place in the knockout stages in huge style.
PSG ratings vs Maccabi Haifa – UEFA Champions League
1. PSG (4-3-3)
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 5/10 – Made a mess of the free-kick that allowed Maccabi to score; too indecisive.
RB: Achraf Hakimi – 5/10 – Lost his balance when bursting into the box to latch onto Neymar pass after the break. A chance you’d have expected him to do better with.
CB: Sergio Ramos – 5/10 – Still dusting off the cobwebs. An important presence, but not his best performance.
CB: Marquinhos – 6/10 – Improved as the game went on and showed his athleticism.
LB: Juan Bernat – 6/10 – Fired a handful of nice passes into midfield and linked up well with Mbappe.
CM: Fabian Ruiz – 7/10 – A confident performance. Ruiz burst forward to join attacks efficiently and caused havoc in the penalty area with his runs from deep.
CM: Vitinha – 6/10 – Continues to grow in confidence after a slow start in Paris.
CM: Renato Sanches – 6/10 – Perhaps playing him and Vitinha in the same game isn’t the brightest idea, particularly without Marco Verratti behind them. The midfield lacked defensive security.
RW: Lionel Messi – 10/10 – Genius finish to open the scoring, which set the tone for an unforgettable night. Regardless of the opposition, Messi was at his unplayable best. Absolutely immense. Perhaps his best performance in a PSG shirt to date.
ST: Kylian Mbappe – 8/10 – Supreme composure to settle a tricky ball and pick out Messi for the opener. Had to get on the scoresheet himself, though, and did it in majestic style.
LW: Neymar – 9/10 – The glue that knits PSG together right now. Exerted passion and an incredible vision, but also threw in a few touches of his signature flair. Joyous.
SUB: Carlos Soler (68′ for Sanches) – 7/10 – Bagged his first goal for the club off the bench.
SUB: Warren Zaire-Emery (79′ for Vitinha) – N/A
SUB: Hugo Ekitike (79′ for Mbappe) – N/A
SUB: Presnel Kimpembe (79′ for Marquinhos) – N/A
SUB: Pablo Sarabia (83′ for Ruiz) – N/A
Manager: Christophe Galtier – 9/10 – Respected the opponents who didn’t go down without a fight, but what’s more impressive is how Galtier has got his front three firing. It’s electric, and that’s with all the Mbappe drama that won’t go away.