PSG vs Maccabi Haifa LIVE, UEFA Champions League: Messi, Mbappe, Neymar leads PSG to 7-2 thrashing of MHA
Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar each scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Maccabi Haifa 7-2 at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday to advance to the Champions League last 16.
The top attacking three each scored once to put the hosts up 3-0 after only 35 minutes. Messi then completed an eye-catching first-half offensive performance with another beautiful finish shortly before the break.
The thrashing continued in the second half, with Mbappe curling in his second goal before an own goal by Maccabi’s Sean Goldberg and a seventh goal by replacement Carlos Soler.
Messi, who also assisted Neymar and Soler’s goals, now has 11 goals and 12 assists in all competitions for PSG this season, matching his goal total from his disastrous first season in the French city.
Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar all scored in last month’s rematch in Israel, which PSG won 3-1. Prior to Goldberg’s own goal on Tuesday, each of PSG’s previous 19 Champions League goals had come from 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.
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“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 team is equal on points with also-qualified Benfica but currently has a big goal difference advantage.
PSG will go to Juventus in the last round of group games next week knowing that they just need to match Benfica’s result on the road against Maccabi Haifa to earn first place in the group.
Despite their big defeat, Maccabi is equal on three points with Juventus and will head into their last game hopeful of securing a Europa League position.
On Tuesday, PSG took a long to find their attacking rhythm, but once they did, they were deadly.
Messi opened the scoring in the 19th minute, scoring with the outside of his left foot after being passed in on the left side of the box by Mbappe.
Mbappe opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, bending a right-footer over Maccabi goalkeeper Josh Cohen, who could not be criticized for either of PSG’s goals.
Three minutes later, Mbappe and Messi collaborated to send in Neymar, and the Brazilian’s shot went in 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 joyously, 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.