Di María the star as Paris pass Real test
Ángel Di María scored twice, including a stunning second goal, as Paris Saint-Germain got their Champions League campaign off to the perfect start with a 3-0 demolition of Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
UEFA Champions League Group A, Matchday 1
Parc des Princes, Paris
Paris Saint-Germain 3 - 0 Real Madrid CF
Di María's two goals came in the first half and looked set to be the only ones on the night until Thomas Meunier completed the scoring in injury time to the sheer delight of the home fans at the Parc des Princes.
After the bitter disappointment of their defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the last 16 last season, Thomas Tuchel's team could not have hoped for a better start to this campaign than this, a convincing victory against the 13-time European Cup winners.
PSG are already in control of Group A with games against Galatasaray and Club Brugge to come, and with Neymar Jr., Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani all still to come back.
Neymar was serving the first game of a two-match ban here, while Mbappé and Cavani were not quite ready to return after injury, but it did not matter as PSG - with Mauro Icardi making his first start - proved too strong for a Real side in which Eden Hazard made his first start in a competitive game after injury.
Bale goal ruled out by VAR
The match was just 14 minutes old when Juán Bernat cut the ball back from the left byline and Di María's toe-poke beat Thibaut Courtois at his near post. If the Belgian goalkeeper will feel he should have done better with that, there was nothing he could do as Di María doubled the home side's lead just after the half-hour mark. The Argentine controlled Idrissa Gueye's pass and let fly on his left foot from 20 yards, the ball arrowing into the right-hand corner of the net.
In between those goals, Real did have chances, with Hazard firing just wide and Gareth Bale curling a free-kick narrowly over. Moments after the second goal, Bale appeared to have reduced the deficit when he lobbed his old team-mate Keylor Navas, but the goal was disallowed for handball after a VAR review.
Meunier seals it
The visitors were diminished too, missing the likes of Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Luka Modric, and there was no barrage of pressure in the second half. Karim Benzema had an effort ruled out for offside on 76 minutes as PSG comfortably held onto their lead.
They were not finished there, though. The game was into stoppage time and Real were in disarray at the back as Meunier exchanged passes with Bernat before making it 3-0. A statement victory at the start of another European campaign for the Ligue 1 champions.
THE PLAYER: Ángel Di María
With Neymar, Mbappé and Cavani all absent, along with Julian Draxler, PSG needed a big performance from Di María and he gave them that here. It was a fantastic display from the Argentine against his former club and a reminder of how important he remains to Tuchel's team.
THE STAT: 22
PSG remain unbeaten in 22 home matches in the Champions League group stage since their return to the competition in 2012. The last team to beat them at the Parc des Princes in a group game remains CSKA Moscow in 2004.