Mbappe sensational as Pochettino’s PSG embarrass Barcelona

Barcelona 1 (Messi pen 27)

Paris Saint-Germain 4 (Mbappe 32, 65, 85, Kean 70)

LOVERS of attacking football should set aside the evening of Tuesday 10 March. If the second leg of this Champions League tie is half as good as last night’s it will be time well spent. Mauricio Pochettino’s swashbuckling Paris side and his brilliant hat-trick scoring hero Kylian Mbappe gave Lionel Messi’s masters of the game a lesson in their own back yard.

Mbappe’s goals were breathtaking and well deserved. At 22, he is already a World Cup winner and is only getting better.

There is now a distinct danger Messi, who submitted a transfer request last summer, will complete a 17th and final season at the Catalan club without the opportunity to lift the famous big silver trophy for a fifth time.

The Argentine, 33, has overturned the same margin against the same club before, but there was a sense in this match the baton really has passed on to a new breed of footballing culture vultures.

Messi gave Barcelona a first half lead with an exquisite penalty kick, but Mbappe equalised soon after, scored again midway through the first half and Moise Kean netted a deserved third before his French team-mate completed his trio of great goals in the closing stages.

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman looked a helpless figure from the side of the pitch. And it might have made painful viewing for Tottenham fans too, as they saw their former leader Pochettino masterminding yet another big European football win with a brand of football they have been starved of since the South American coach was sacked for Jose Mourinho.

His tactics and formation were spot on, negating Messi’s influence and allowing his own attack-minded players to show their creative talents to the full. Last season’s beaten finalists were more than a match for the five-time winners of the competition and it is safe to predict there will be more goals when they meet again for what could be Messi’s European farewell with the club he has lifted to such great heights.

It will be all the more sweeter for Pochettino, of course, as he was overlooked for the Barcelona job, possibly as he was such a fierce rival of theirs when he started his managerial career neighbours Espanol. He also captained PSG, of course, and already looks more than at home less than two months into the job.

His players are supremely confident under his leadership and were on the prowl inside the opening minute. Mbappe’s speed enabled him to spring the flat-footed Barcelona defence and he was was only denied a shock early goal by the swift reaction of keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The white-shirted PSG players seemed to out number the famous deep red and blue Barcelona stripes at times and must have benefited form the lack of a 105,000-strong partisan Nou Camp crowd. Ultimately they will have been glad to escape what would have been a nightmare night for the fans.

Indeed, the loudest Catalan voice came from returning Gerard Pique, trying to marshal the Barcelona defence again on his first appearance since picking up an injury in November. It was a Koeman gamble that ultimately back fired and shows how far the proud club is falling.

But anything is possible with Messi and it was not wholly surprising when he shot them into a 27th minute lead after Frenkie de Jong had been tripped by Layvin Kuzawa.

There was a crucial miss by Ousmane Dembele soon after and how PSG made them pay.

Mbappe netted his first goal in the 32nd minute with a touch of brilliance. Marco Veratti flicked him the ball in the area and Mbappe controlled and shot into the roof of the net.

They could and should have scored more either side of half-time and Mbappe got his second after 65 minutes with another smart left foot shot.

Five minutes later and it was all over as Kean, a player reborn since he joined on loan from Everton, headed in from close range. Mbappe became the first visiting player to score a hat-trick here in 24 years when he finished off a swift counter attack with five minutes to go.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6, Dest 5 (Mingueza 71), Pique 5 (Puig 78), Lenglet 6, Alba 6, Busquets 5 (Pjanic 78), De Jong 6, Pedri 6, Dembele 4, Messi 6, Griezmann 5 (Braithwaite 85)

PSG: Navas 5, Florenzi 6 (Kehrer 89), Marquinhos 6, Kimpembe 6, Kurzawa 7, Gueye 6 (Hererra 45), Paredes 6, Kean 7 (Danilo 85), Verratti 8 (Draxler 73), Mbappe 9, Icardi 7

Ref: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland) 7

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