Paris Saint-Germain have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages after an emphatic 7-2 win over Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa.
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe both scored twice while Neymar and Carlos Soler also got on the scoresheet in an easy victory for PSG. Maccabi occasionally looked good going forward, but PSG’s front three were in scintillating form.
Victory for PSG puts them on 11 points and into the last 16 with one game to spare in Group H against Juventus on November 2.
It only took until the 19th minute for PSG to break the deadlock at the Parc des Princes. Messi, on his 50th PSG appearance, masterfully curled in his shot using the outside of his left boot to get the better of Josh Cohen in goal.
In the 32nd minute, Mbappe extended PSG’s lead with a fine finish from the left hand side of the penalty box as he cut in and expertly curled his finish into the top corner.
Two minutes later and the Ligue 1 champions had their third of the night. Following a slick counter-attacking move, Messi laid the ball off to Neymar who calmly slotted away beyond Cohen.
Maccabi did pull a goal back just three minutes later when Abdoulaye Seck thumped his header from an indirect free-kick, but PSG got their fourth before half-time through Messi. It was a typical finish from the Argentine. He cut in onto his left boot on the edge of the box before tucking his shot into the bottom corner.
Maccabi went all out attack to begin the second half and they reduced the deficit through Seck in the 50th minute. He looped his header over Gianluigi Donnarumma from close range to get his second of the night.
But PSG got another two goals in quick succession. Mbappe curled in his second of the night into the top corner moments before Neymar’s driven pass was turned into the Maccabi net by defender Sean Goldberg to make it six.
Soler scored his first PSG goal six minutes from time as Messi set him up for a well-placed finish into the bottom corner.
TALKING POINT – PSG’S IMPROVED ATTACK MAKES THEM GENUINE CONTENDERS
Paris Saint-Germain will rate their chances of winning the Champions League this season purely off the basis of their front three.
Unlike last season at times, the Messi, Neymar, Mbappe trio all look to be on the same wavelength when transitioning on the counter-attack which could prove devastating in the knockout rounds.
The bigger question will be whether their defence is resolute enough to steer them through to the end, but there is no doubting every potential opponent will fear their threat on the break.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – LIONEL MESSI
Two goals and two assists from the 34-year-old who continues to show why he is one of the greatest footballers – or perhaps the greatest – to ever play the game. His link-up play with Neymar and Mbappe was very easy on the eye.
PSG: Donnarumma (6), Hakimi (7), Ramos (6), Marquinhos (6), Bernat (6), Ruiz (6), Sanches (7), Vitinha (6), Messi (9), Neymar (8), Mbappe (9)
Subs: Soler (8), Ekitike (N/A), Zaire-Emery (N/A), Kimpembe (N/A), Sarabia (N/A)
Maccabi Haifa: Cohen (5), Seck (7), Batubinsika (5), Goldberg (4), Cornud (5), Fani (6), Mohamed (5), Lavi (5), Atzili (7), Chery (6), Pierrot (5)
Subs: David (4), Menahem (4), Meir (4), Rukavytsya (N/A), Arad (N/A)
19′ – GOAL! MESSI FIRES PSG IN FRONT! Messi scores his tenth goal in his last nine matches in his 50th PSG appearance! Batubinsika fails to clear the ball and it comes to Mbappe by the penalty spot, he lays it off to Messi who masterfully uses the outside of his left boot to send his shot into the top corner beyond Cohen. What a goal. PSG lead!
32′ – WHAT A GOAL FROM MBAPPE!! A stunning string of passes between Neymar and Mbappe finishes with the latter curling a shot into the top corner. It’s Mbappe’s 15th goal of the season and his fifth in the Champions League this campaign. PSG are in cruise control!
34′ – GOAL!! NEYMAR GETS IN ON THE FUN! This is too easy for PSG. A rapid counter-attack involves the entire MNM trio. Neymar takes on Messi’s pinpoint pass inside the box and curls his shot past Cohen to surely put this game beyond any doubt.
37′ – GOAL!!! MACCABI SCORE! GAME ON? Atzili’s cross from the free-kick on the left flank finds Seck free inside the box and he powers his header beyond Donnarumma into the net!
44′ – GOAL!! MESSI SCORES AGAIN! PSG’s three goal cushion is restored! It’s classic Messi. He cuts in onto his left foot on the edge of the box and and curls his shot into the bottom corner to Cohen’s right. It’s 4-1!
50′ – GOAL!! MACCABI SCORE AGAIN! And Seck has his second of the night! They came out of the traps quickly this second half and have reduced the deficit to two goals! Pierrot’s looping header from a corner is met by the defender and he floats his header over Donnarumma into the far corner! We have a great match here!
63′ – GOAL!!! A BRILLIANT STRIKE FROM MBAPPE! A fifth of the night for PSG and a second for Mbappe! PSG beat the Maccabi press and Hakimi’s cross finds the forward on the left hand side of the penakty box. He brings it down before curling his shot into the top corner. It’s 16 goals in 16 matches for Mbappe this season. Ten in his last eight Champions League appearances.
67′ – ANOTHER PSG GOAL!! Neymar’s pass into the corridor of uncertainty is turned into his own net by is turned Goldberg. PSG lead 6-2!
84′ – GOAL!! PSG MAKE IT SEVEN! Messi lays the ball off on the edge of the box for Soler who fires his shot into the bottom corner for his first PSG goal. PSG 7-2 up!