Paris Saint-Germain Edge Liverpool In a Heated Affair
We can all agree that the first match between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain was, simply, pure Champions League entertainment. This game became more important for both teams when Liverpool succumbed to Red Star on a tough night in Belgrade, opening up the group which gave PSG versus Liverpool an added spark to what was an already an highly anticipated game.
Before the game began, the PSG fans created an intimidating, echoing atmosphere; one that could rival an Anfield home crowd. It certainly showed as the game started, PSG rose to the intensity of the noise coming from the home fans whilst Liverpool succumbed to the heat they were under. PSG nearly fashioned a chance straight from kick off, with Edinson Cavani’s touch letting him down which would have seen him through on goal. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come.
PSG’s Quick Start
They started quick, Neymar, Marco Verrati, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria with little passes and flicks which Liverpool found too much to cope with. The first goal came from a quick move by PSG, with Mbappe being sent through down the left; the ball, which was a poor one, coming in behind Cavani but then deflected off a Liverpool defender. Juan Bernat stayed moving and slotted past the unsighted Alisson, who watched it roll into the left corner. The pressure continued after and the warning signs were there. The second came from a similar cross as this time the save from Alisson was pushed out to Neymar, who slotted home a deserved second.
Just as PSG were labouring towards half-time, Sadio Mane showcased his pace in PSG’s half. His run took him past Bernat and Di Maria, who then slid in with a poor late tackle and got nowhere near the ball. The referee originally gave a corner but the assistant referee intervened and the decision was overturned – which was a correct decision. James Milner showed why he is a penalty specialist, slotting in to turn this game from a PSG rout into a tense battle for qualification.
Liverpool Pushed Forward
In the second-half, the pace dropped from PSG and Liverpool picked it up. Spurred on by the penalty at the end of the first half, they didn’t create any real chances but they found themselves in a lot of good positions. Thiago Silva began to show his experience in the second half with a commanding captain’s performance, blocking Robertson’s crosses on more than one occasion. He certainly helped to nullify the threat posed by the Liverpool front three, who were fairly ineffective apart from the Mane run which brought about the penalty.
Liverpool threw players forward in the final stages of the game but found themselves at risk of a swift counter attack every time they went forward. The feeling in the stadium was very much that of a nervous one with only one goal separating the teams. PSG sat very deep, inviting pressure, but the crowd celebrated every tackle and clearance like a goal.
A long ball to Mohamed Salah was chased down by Silva, then cleared against Salah by Marquinhos, which ended up going out for a goal-kick. It was celebrated with a chest bump between the two Brazilians and a roar from the crowd, exactly the type of passion you would want from your players. PSG held out for the 2-1 win which, in the end, was a nervy win. At one point, it looked like it could have been a romping victory. PSG burned themselves out due their the first half efforts but Liverpool in the end couldn’t make them pay.
Neymar Stole the Show
Neymar absolutely ran the show, displaying a tenacity and a willingness to put his body on the line, whilst being subject to plenty of late tackles. Constantly a thorn in Liverpool’s side, he was involved for both goals, displaying why he is regarded as one of the best players in the world. He looked levels ahead of Liverpool’s front three, who were underwhelming. He just pipped Silva to the Man of the Match award. The win leaves PSG in a good position going into the final game, requiring a win against Red Star to guarantee qualification, while Liverpool host Napoli knowing only a win will take them through. Nevertheless, the night belonged to Neymar and PSG on what was another great Champions League occasion.