Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe each scored twice and Neymar added another as Paris Saint-Germain routed Maccabi Haifa 7-2 at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday to cruise into the Champions League last 16.
The star attacking trio each found the net to put the hosts up 3-0 inside just 35 minutes. Messi then produced another sumptuous finish just before the interval to complete an eye-catching first-half attacking display.
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There was little letup in the second half, with Mbappe curling in for his second before an own goal from Maccabi’s Sean Goldberg and a seventh goal, by substitute Carlos Soler, completed the rout.
Messi, who also assisted the goals for Neymar and Soler, now has 11 goals and 12 assists in all competitions for PSG this season, already matching his goal total from his disappointing first campaign in the French capital.
Messi, Mbappe and Neymar also all scored in the reverse fixture in Israel last month, which PSG won 3-1. Before Goldberg’s own goal on Tuesday, PSG’s past 19 Champions League goals had been scored by a member of the « MNM, » dating back to last season.
« The 4-3-3 system meant the front three could be a little higher up the pitch and they had a little more freedom in their movements thanks to the work of the midfield, » PSG coach Christophe Galtier said.
« It’s a privilege to have those players and to see them play like that, for each other. »
At the other end, there were some brief signs of defensive fragility, with Maccabi Haifa defender Abdoulaye Seck twice able to find the net with headers from set pieces.
The victory, though, was never in doubt, leaving PSG to clinch their place in the Champions League knockout stage with a game to spare.
Galtier’s side are level on 11 points with also-qualified Benfica but now have a comfortable edge on goal difference.
PSG will travel to Juventus in the final round of group fixtures next week knowing they need only match Benfica’s result on the road against Maccabi Haifa to clinch the top spot in the group..
Despite their heavy defeat, Maccabi remain level on three points with Juve and will go into their last game still hopeful of sealing a Europa League spot.
PSG took a while to find their attacking rhythm on Tuesday, but once they did, they were devastating.
Messi got the ball rolling in the 19th minute with a silky opening goal scored with the outside of his left foot after being played in by Mbappe on the left side of the area.
Mbappe’s opener was just as classy, the French forward bending a right-footer in the 32nd minute past Maccabi goalkeeper Josh Cohen who could not be faulted for any of PSG’s goals.
It began to turn ugly for Maccabi three minutes later when Mbappe and Messi combined to play in Neymar and the Brazilian’s shot went in on off the post.
PSG switched off defensively to allow an unmarked Seck to head in from Omer Atzili’s free kick, but Messi then swapped passes with Neymar before dropping his shoulder and belting a left-footed shot low into the corner to make it 4-1 at half-time .
Maccabi actually bossed the opening 10 minutes of the second half, and when PSG made a hash of clearing a corner, Seck looped a header over Gianluigi Donnarumma and into the net.
The visiting fans celebrated joyfully, but PSG then moved through the gears to run riot.
In the 64th minute, Mbappe was picked out by a diagonal pass from Achraf Hakimi, and he took a deft touch before picking out the far corner. As Maccabi finally lost heart, Neymar’s dribble and low cross ended with Goldberg netting an own goal.
Messi, who was denied a record-extending ninth Champions League hat trick by the crossbar, then set up Soler to wrap up the scoring with a low shot.
« We caught Paris on a good day. The smallest slip in concentration against players like that and they can score or have a big chance, » Maccabi defender Dylan Batubinsika said.
« We managed to score twice today, which is a positive, and we can still finish third in the group. »
Information from Reuters was used in this report.