Paris Saint-Germain produced a masterful display to dismantle Barcelona, Ángel Di María scoring twice and Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani once each in a remarkable 4-0 win.
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Paris Saint-Germain produced a display of sustained attacking brilliance to overwhelm Barcelona at the Parc des Princes, Ángel Di María scoring two fine goals and Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani each contributing memorable strikes of their own.
Paris started at speed, harrying their opponents and pushing them back towards their own goal with Cavani and Blaise Matuidi going close early on. The breakthrough did come in the 18th minute, Di María curling a sumptuous left-foot free-kick beyond Marc-André ter Stegen from 20 metres.
Although Paris goalkeeper Kevin Trapp had to save from André Gomes, it was 2-0 just before the interval as Marco Verratti's run and pass set up the increasingly prominent Draxler for an unerring finish.
Ten minutes after half-time, it was three. Paris won the ball back on the edge of their own area and, via some slick one-touch passing, worked it to Di María on the right, who exploited the time and space afforded to him with a beautiful curling shot beyond Ter Stegen.
With Barcelona unable to make an impression, Paris looked dangerous every time they came forward – and they made it four 18 minutes from time. Thomas Meunier was allowed to advance from right-back and slipped a pass through for Cavani, who beat Ter Stegen at the near post.
That left Barça facing their joint worst European defeat, and Samuel Umtiti's late header that came back off the post summed up their evening.
Key player: Ángel Di María (Paris)
What present do you give to a man who has everything? A performance like this. Di María celebrated his 29th birthday with two Messi-esque goals, the second of which was ultra-difficult to execute while running flat out, and showed exemplary technique. He delivered displays like this against Barcelona for Real Madrid, but this must have been particularly sweet.
It's just a couple of days since he acknowledged it had taken him time to get a handle on the tactical demands of Paris coach Unai Emery, but he seems fine now! The Argentinian added: "I hope we can eliminate Barça because I can imagine reaching the Champions League final and playing Madrid". This was a big step towards that. Cumpleaños feliz.
Emery proves his worth
It was hard to avoid the alarming statistic that Emery had overseen just one win against Barcelona in his 23 previous games against them as a coach, but he completely bossed the tactical battle. Fielding both of his more forward-thinking full-backs, Paris were too quick and energetic for Barcelona, defending with real intelligence – Emery's video analysis clearly paying off – and attacking with crispness and efficiency. Brought in to make Paris a European force, Emery showed he has the pedigree.
The way Sergio Busquets was smothered by Cavani, particularly in the first half, was not only terrifically smart by Emery but the key reason Barcelona were cut open time and again. The Catalan is the Barça gatekeeper: cutting off attacks, beginning build-ups. Once he was almost man-marked by the Uruguayan it left so much space for players like Adrien Rabiot and Verratti to dart into unopposed. Barcelona's remaining midfielders looked slow and poorly positioned. Kudos to the Paris scouting team and to Emery's players for applying the tactic brilliantly.
Chris Burke, Paris (@UEFAcomChrisB)
The Paris fans must have been pinching themselves as this game unfolded. Who saw that coming? Supposedly a weakened force this term, the French side received a major blow yesterday when captain Thiago Silva pulled out injured, but this was an effort that defied expectations. The hosts could hardly have performed better and this will go down as one of the club's greatest ever nights – one to be recalled with pride for decades to come. It may also prove the platform for a successful season at home and abroad. Who would dare write them off now?
Graham Hunter, Barcelona (@BumperGraham)
It's just short of four years since Barcelona were outplayed in this manner in Europe. That was Jupp Heynckes' Bayern but this was far, far more comprehensive. This was a one-sided contest from start to finish in which Paris did virtually everything better. The margin should have been bigger. But even taking into account the home team's excellence the Blaugrana inquest will need to centre on why it was that Paris outran, outworked and outcompeted them from start to finish. Wonderful for the Parc des Princes faithful, great entertainment for the neutrals yet a source of intense concern for Barça.