Paris Saint-Germain fashioned themselves a Champions League lifeline on Wednesday night with a pulsating 2-1 win over Liverpool at the Parc des Princes. Juan Bernat opened the scoring 13 minutes into the clash after Liverpool’s defenders failed to clear the ball.
The second strike for the hosts was all about the 400 million euros worth of talent housed in Neymar and Kylian Mbappé. The Brazilian collected the ball in midfield and exchanged passes with the French teenage prodigy.
Neymar sped upfield and released Mbappé into space on the left wing. He slid the ball across the penalty area but Edinson Cavani’s attempt to turn it in was blocked by the Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson. It span out to Neymar who gleefully slotted home to the left of the stricken keeper.
The Parc des Princes exploded. The duo hugged each other in delight. Cavani joined in the festivities too. PSG’s attacking troika, so often denounced as a niggly band of preening egos, were a union of joy.
“It was our last chance to show that we can fight with a team like Liverpool,” said PSG boss Thomas Tuchel after the match.
“It was expected and we did it. Liverpool are a tough team with an incredible mentality.”
The Merseysiders were allowed back into the game when Angel di Maria felled Sadio Mané just inside the penalty area on the stroke of half-time.
James Milner converted coolly past the PSG goalkeeper Gigi Buffon to halve the deficit. But even with 45 minutes and second-half stoppage time, Liverpool’s own fabled troika of Mané, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino failed to make inroads past a defence marshalled by Thiago Silva.
The Brazilian veteran was rugged in the air and nimble on the ground. He pumped his fist and geed up the crowd after sliding to intercept Andrew Robertson’s attempted centre from Liverpool’s left during the second-half.
“The attitude was extraordinary,” added Tuchel. “The players were trying to get the supporters involved. They could all see how difficult it was to keep Mané, Salah and Firmino quiet. Everybody in out team was ready to suffer for the others.
The victory moves PSG up to second in Group C on eight points. They are a point behind Napoli who swept past Red Star Belgrade 3-1. Liverpool drop to third but can still qualify if they beat Napoli either 1-0 or by two clear goals on 11 December at Anfield.
“We have to make it a special night,” said Klopp of the impending match against Napoli. “If we go on in the tournament, then we deserve it and if we don’t advance, then we haven’t deserved it. We have to try everything.”
PSG will move into the last 16 for the sixth consecutive season if they get at least a draw at Red Star Belgrade on 11 December.
“It was great to play the way we played,” added Tuchel. “We have to work hard to maintain this spirit.”