PARIS: A hat-trick from Kylian Mbappe added to Barcelona’s problems as Paris Saint-Germain hit back from a goal down to humiliate their hosts 4-1 in Camp Nou in their Champions League second round first leg.
The victory was a perfect welcome back to Europe’s elite competition for Mauricio Pochettino, the former Tottenham manager having taken over at PSG at the start of January in succession to sacked Thomas Tuchel.
The night’s other tie saw Liverpool win 2-0 against notional hosts RB Leipzig in a tie switched to Budapest because of Germany’s Covid-19 travel restrictions. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane scored the goals against German opponents whose sloppy defending was a poor advert for Bundesliga.
In Barcelona the hosts took the lead when Lionel Messi converted a penalty just before the half hour mark after Frenkie de Jong had been brought down.
The lead did not last long. PSG, despite missing Neymar and Angel di Maria through injuries, levelled through Mbappe five minutes later.
The teams were level at the break but Barcelona collapsed under the French champions’ second-half onslaught. Mbappe struck his second on 65 minutes and Everton loanee Moise Kean made it three shortly after as his header beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Julian Draxler made an impact from the bench by setting up the unmarked Mbappe to complete a hat-trick in style.
Pochettino praised all his team and Mbappe in parsticular, saying: “Great footballers create their reputations through great matches like these. A hat-trick here puts him in the media spotlight but we have never had any doubt that he is among the world’s best.”
Previously Barcelona had not conceded more than one goal in their last 15 home matches in Champions League knockout ties.
Coach Ronald Koeman said: “I am going home sad, disappointed, especially because of the difference in the second half. I have said several times that we lack things at the high level that is required in the Champions League.
“This does not mean that we are not on the right track but we have to be realistic. We are changing things. We have a very young team in various positions, without some important players. We could not stop them in the second half and we have to accept it.”
Easy for Liverpool
Liverpool put their domestic struggles to one side against RB Leipzig after a 2-0 victory pushed into the background the Reds’ recent three successive Premier League defeats.
Both Liverpool goals came via Leipzig errors, with Mohamed Salah latching on to a woeful back pass by Marcel Sabitzer to slot home in the 53rd minute, and Sadio Mane doing likewise five minutes later after Nordi Mukiele’s slip-up.
Liverpool had one early escape, when Dani Olmo headed against a post, and another in the closing minutes when substitute Hwang Hee-chan shot wide to allow Jurgen Klopp’s men to claim only their second clean sheet in 11 matches in all competitions.