NYON: The first heavyweight clash of the Champions League group stage saw Paris Saint-Germain shatter Real Madrid 3-0 in the Parc des Princes despite being without injured Kylian Mbappe and Edison Cavani and suspended Neymar.
One-time Madrid star Angel Di Maria stepped up to put in a dominant performance with two eye-catching strikes in the Group A clash.
In Group C Manchester City eased to an easy winning start against Shakhtar Donetsk in the one tournament their Abu Dhabi owners want to win above all else. In launching their Champion League campaign with a victory City succeeded where the Premier League’s other three contenders – Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham – had all failed.
Shakhtar included five Brazilian-born players but failed to test compatriot Ederson in the City goal in the opening exchanges. City, 3-0 winners away to Shakhtar in the group stage last season, contained the hosts’ attack and took the lead in the 24th minute.
Rodri had missed badly in the first minute and then Gabriel Jesus had a shot deflected for a corner in the 21st. That pressure paid off when Alan Patrick gave away possession in midfield, Ilkay Gundogan hit a post and Riyad Mahrez shot home the rebound.
That goal ensured every one of City’s 49 group games in the Champions League would see at least one goal. In fact, City had previously scored 161 goals in the groups at an average of 3.3 per game.
Shakhtar needed a quick response and nearly obtained it. Captain Taison fed Junior Moraes who, with only Ederson to beat, shoots straight at the goalkeeper. The miss immediately proved costly. City drifted back downfield and Mahrez opened up the Shakhtar defence for Gundogan to score his first goal of the season.
City cruised through the second half despite the hard-working but vain efforts of Taison. Raheem Sterling hit a post before de Bruyne set up Gabriel Jesus for a third goal in the 76th minute. It was even comfortable enough for Benjamin Mendy to make his first appearance in five months. The outcome was a perfect response to the Norwich defeat: victory and a clean sheet.
This week’s results:
TUESDAY – Gp E: Napoli 2, Liverpool 0; Salzburg 6, Genk 2. Gp F: Inter 1, Slavia Prague 1; Borussia Dortmund 0, Barcelona 0. Gp G: Lyon 1, Zenit 1; Benfica 1, RB Leipzig 2. Gp H: Ajax 3, Lille 0; Chelsea 0, Valencia 1.
WEDNESDAY: Gp A: Brugge 0, Galatasaray 0; PSG 3, Real Madrid 0. Gp B: Olympiacos 2, Tottenham 2; Bayern 3, Red Star 0. Gp C: Dinamo Z 4, Atalanta 0; Shakhtar 0, Man. City 3. Gp D: At. Madrid 2, Juventus 2; Bayer Leverkusen 1, Lok Moscow 2.