Neymar sends PSG through … as Liverpool last-16 dream hangs in balance

Neymar

Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain were far too good for Liverpool, easily outplaying them in the first half before seeing them away in the second period.

They must now beat Red Star Belgrade to qualify for the last 16, though even a defeat does the job if Liverpool-Napoli is a draw; Liverpool must win that game either 1-0 or by two clear goals.

From the off, Liverpool had no answer the PSG’s superior pace, skill and movement, unable to cope in midfield, where Marco Verratti dominated. Also in the mood was Neymar, a shimmering, swaying menace, though when the opening goal came it was from a surprising source, Juan Bernat driving home while Liverpool’s defenders dreamt of tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

That was on 13 minutes, and on 37 minutes the game looked over, a fine break eventually finished by Neymar.

Just before half-time, though, Angel Di Maria slid maniacally through Sadio Mane to concede a penalty that James Milner dispatched with customary competence and a serious second half looked in prospect. But Liverpool could not find a spark and looked more likely to concede a third than score a second.

So they must now rouse themselves for what should be glorious European night at Anfield – but if they do not play better than they did tonight, they may well lose that one too.

Elsewhere, a magical goal from Lionel Messi helped Barcelona seal top spot in their Champions League group with a 2-1 win away at PSV Eindhoven.

The home team missed the opportunity to go ahead in a rather dour opening half when Gastón Pereiro managed to fire over a few yards out of goal having been played in by a flick from captain Luuk de Jong.

And the deadlock was broken when Messi picked up the ball, weaved past a few players, played a one-two with Ousmane Dembele, did some more weaving, and then fired home. It was Messi’s 106th Champions League goal for Barcelona, the most of any player for one single team.

Gerard Pique turned home Messi’s free-kick to double the lead but De Jong pulled one back to make things interesting. PSV had late chances but they were unable to find the equaliser. They are now eliminated whilst Barca secure top spot. – Eurosport

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