Sat | Aug 19, 2017

PSG hammer Barca in CL clash

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2017 | 2:00 AM
PSG's Angel Di Maria,(centre), celebrates after scoring the first goal of the game during the Champion's League round of 16, first leg match between Paris Saint Germain and Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, yesterday. Di Maria scored twice as PSG hammered Barca 4-0.

PARIS (AP):

Angel Di Maria scored two superb goals as Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) battered Barcelona from start to finish yesterday, hammering the five-time European champion 4-0 to take a huge advantage into the second leg of their Champions League knockout match.

The Argentina winger, totally out of form for much of the season, celebrated his 29th birthday in style, rifling in an 18th-minute free kick and then skipping past two weak challenges before curling in a superb second from 25 metres out, 10 minutes after the break.

Germany winger Julian Draxler continued his rich form since joining from Wolfsburg, smacking in the second goal late in the first half.

Top-scorer Edinson Cavani, also celebrating his birthday, emphatically drilled home the fourth in the 72nd minute - his 34th goal of a rampant season. He is no longer second fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and is playing like a free spirit.

The noise level at Parc des Princes reached deafening proportions as the home fans watched in almost stunned disbelief as Barcelona cracked under waves of incessant pressure. Barcelona were supposed to be the favourite in the Round of 16 match, but the night turned into a damage-limitation exercise, the way it does when weak sides are totally outclassed.

 

FEVERISH DETERMINATION

 

The way Barca lost their shape and composure was completely unbecoming of such a proud club.

Luis Enrique's side was destroyed by a PSG side playing with feverish determination, desperate to prove it belongs among Europe's elite after falling at the quarter-finals in the last four seasons.

This time it looks like the mighty Barcelona won't even reach the last eight, after equalling their worst-ever Champions League defeat.

In the day's other match, Benfica clipped Borussia Dortmund 1-0 in Portugal to take a slim advantage into the return leg.

Real Madrid will host Napoli and Arsenal will play away to Bayern Munich in today's Round of 16 first-leg action.