Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain. UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round.
Match report as Kylian Mbappe's hat-trick inspires PSG to Champions League victory at Barcelona; Lionel Messi opened scoring from penalty spot; Mbappe's treble plus Moise Kean's header stunned Barcelona; Mauricio Pochettino's side take big advantage into last-16 second-leg tie on March 10
Wednesday 17 February 2021 06:50, UK
Kylian Mbappe's hat-trick inspired Paris Saint-Germain to an emphatic 4-1 victory at Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
In what was an open first half at the Nou Camp, Lionel Messi (27) gave Barca the lead from the penalty spot after Frenkie de Jong had his heels clipped by Layvin Kurzawa before Mbappe responded five minutes later for the visitors, who were without Neymar and Angel Di Maria.
After the break, PSG took over and Mbappe (65) added his second of the night before Moise Kean, who is on loan from Everton, stretched the French side's advantage.
Mbappe (85) then produced a brilliant curled finish to leave Barcelona stunned, rounding off a stunning evening for Mauricio Pochettino's side.
It leaves Barca requiring another considerable comeback heading into the second leg at the Parc des Princes on March 10, four years on from the sides' memorable last-16 clash in which the La Liga outfit recovered from a 4-0 first-leg loss in France by winning the second 6-1 at the Nou Camp.
PSG started brightly, with Mbappe's pace causing the Barcelona defence problems straight away. The French forward tried to latch onto Marco Verratti's pass over the top but Marc-André ter Stegen was quickly off his line to clear for the hosts.
Despite a confident start from the visitors, it was Barca who created the first clear opening. Messi dropped deep to start the move, playing the ball into Pedri, who then slid in Antoine Griezmann. However, the Frenchman scuffed his shot, allowing Keylor Navas to make a simple block at his near post.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 27th minute and Messi was at the heart of it for the hosts. His direct pass looked to release De Jong into the penalty area and the midfielder had his heels clipped by Kurzawa as the defender tried to track the run, and referee Bjorn Kuipers correctly pointed to the spot.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (7), Dest (5), Pique (6), Lenglet (5), Jordi Alba (6), De Jong (6), Sergio Busquets (5), Pedri (6), Griezmann (5), Messi (6), Dembele (5).
Subs: Mingueza (6), Tincao (n/a), Puig(n/a), Pjanic (n/a), Braithwaite (n/a).
PSG: Navas (7), Florenzi (7), Marquinhos (7), Kimpembe (7), Kurzawa (8), Paredes (8), Gueye (6), Kean (8), Verratti (8), Mbappe (9), Icardi (7).
Subs: Herrera (7), Draxler (7), Pereira (n/a), Kehrer (n/a).
Man of the match: Kylian Mbappe.
It was over to Messi, who emphatically picked out the top corner with his penalty for his 20th goal of the season in all competitions.
Ousmane Dembele had a brilliant chance to make it two moments later, but his scuffed shot was straight at Navas, and it proved to be costly as Mbappe struck the equaliser.
Verratti's flick picked out the striker in the penalty area and he showed quick feet to shift the ball past Clement Lenglet before powering the ball into the roof of the net for a crucial away goal.
The game was now end-to-end as Ter Stegen denied Kurzawa, while Griezmann shot wide after a swift Barca counter-attack. Ter Stegen also had to be alert to keep out Kean's powerful strike before Mauro Icardi powered a header wide in the closing stages of a brilliant first half.
Barcelona needed Ter Stegen to keep them in the game after the break too as the goalkeeper produced a smart save to keep out Kean's deflected effort.
However, he could do nothing about Mbappe's second of the evening. Leandro Paredes' pass released Alessandro Florenzi and his cut-back was deflected into the path of Mbappe, who guided the ball into the back of the net.
Of players with 20 or more goals in the UEFA Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe has netted the highest proportion in away matches (71 per cent - 17/24).
Mbappe was then denied a third by a smart block from Ter Stegen but again, he was powerless to prevent PSG's third as Kean ran through unmarked to head home Paredes' free-kick.
Barca had absolutely no answer to PSG's dominance and Mbappe rounded off a perfect night for Pochettino's men with a curled finish after a swift counter-attack from the visitors.
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman: "Surely the result reflects how superior they have been. In the second half, we had problems defensively. They proved physically to be very superior to us.
"We have to admit that they have been superior. They have shown that they have a more complete team than us. We have to accept it, improve things. We know that this can happen because we play against a great team, a physical team, with experience... for many things, that is ahead of us.
"A 1-4 defeat is normally very difficult. I can lie to you but losing at home 1-4, there are very few options. The game has shown us that we lack things to be at the best level, especially at the Champions League level."
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino on Mbappe's display: "Yesterday, at training, he asked me how many times I had won at the Camp Nou. Once, I told him. He replied to me: 'Tomorrow, we are going to win a second time.' He is a top player."
Sky Sports' Oliver Yew:
Many a Champions League night at the Nou Camp has been about the irrepressible Lionel Messi, but, against PSG, he was well and truly upstaged by Kylian Mbappe's stunning performance.
As early as the second minute, the French forward was giving the Barcelona defence a fright with his pace and from then on, every time he got the ball, he caused Ronald Koeman's side problems.
It was a performance that drew special praise from Barca forward and international team-mate Antoine Griezmann. "Kylian Mbappe had a great night," he said. "PSG has a great star for the future, who will be at the level of Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo."
And it is hard to argue.
Mbappe went on to produce three fine finishes to become only the third player to score a treble in the competition against Barcelona, after Faustino Asprilla for Newcastle and Andriy Shevchenko for Dynamo Kiev (both in 1997) and the first player to score a hat-trick against the Spanish club in the knockout phase.
But on what was a truly special night for PSG, he could have had more goals but for some fine saves from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
With 110 goals now to his name, the 22-year-old is already PSG's third-highest goalscorer in all competitions, overtaking Pauleta (109). Now only Edinson Cavani (200) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (156) have netted more for PSG, but, if he stays at the club, those records will not be intact for long.
He has also drawn level with Zinedine Zidane with eight goals in the list of the top goalscorers in the Champions League knockout stages, with just Thierry Henry (12) and Karim Benzema (18) ahead of him.
The sky is the limit for Mbappe, who confirmed himself as football's best young player with an astonishing performance that Messi himself would have been proud of.
Lionel Messi's opener was his 20th goal of the season for Barcelona in all competitions; it's the 13th consecutive campaign he's scored 20+ goals for the club.
Messi has scored in the UEFA Champions League in each calendar year since 2005. This run of at least one goal in 17 consecutive years is the joint-longest run in the competition's history alongside Raul (1995-2011).
Barcelona host Cadiz in La Liga on Sunday; kick-off 1pm. Meanwhile, PSG host Monaco in Ligue 1, also on Sunday; kick-off 8pm.
The second leg of this Champions League last-16 tie takes place on March 10 at the Parc des Princes; kick-off 8pm.
The Champions League is back but who's in shape for the last 16 as a host of star names go head-to-head?
Round of 16 first legs: February 17/23/24
Round of 16 second legs: March 9/10/16/17
Quarter-final and semi-final draws: March 19
Quarter-finals first legs: April 6/7
Quarter-finals second legs: April 13/14
Semi-finals first legs: April 27/28
Semi-finals second legs: May 4/5
Final: May 29 (Atatürk Olympic Stadium)