PLAYER RATINGS | PSG 7-2 Maccabi Haifa: Lionel Messi leads demolition for hosts

-Paris Saint-Germain emphatically booked their place in the Champions League last 16 with a blistering attacking performance that once again had Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappé on song.

Although the visitors showed their intent early on by putting PSG under pressure with some high pressing, it wasn’t long before a delicious outside-of-the-boot finish from Lionel Messi opened the scoring. The goal would trigger a festival of attacking play from the hosts’ front three, as Mbappé and Neymar also scored before the Argentine got his double. For all Haifa’s intent to break forward, their defence was left helpless to a counter-attack led by PSG’s star trident, who combined with ease in and around the box and were ruthless in front of goal.

Haifa defender Abdoulaye Seck – who may well have been sent off for a very late tackle on Mbappé but was lucky to escape with just a yellow – notched an improbable double with headers on both sides of half-time. The first came as Donnarumma came too far out for a free-kick, and the second from a looping header over the Italian shot-stopper, this time making the most of confusion among the PSG defence from the corner.

With the deficit reduced to two again, PSG soon kicked into gear again as Mbappé curled in his double after a pin-point Hakimi cross, before some great work from Neymar down the left led to an own goal from Sean Goldberg. A tired Haifa side may have feared an even bigger deficit, but substitutions and an eye on fitness meant PSG took their foot off the gas, but not before Carlos Soler added another from an assist by – who else – Lionel Messi.

PSG player ratings v Maccabi Haifa

Gianluigi Donnarumma – 4 – Was rarely called into action but did come out too far for the visitors’ first goal, and again off his line for the second. 

Achraf Hakimi – 6 – Continued his return to form with a decent attacking performance as he made the right flank his own again – a pin-point assist for Mbappé’s second could have been added to had he squared it for Marquinhos when he was played through on goal by Neymar.

Sergio Ramos – 5

Marquinhos – 5

Juan Bernat – 5 

Fabián Ruiz – 6

Vitinha – 7 – Ran the show in midfield in Marco Verratti’s absence, continuing his spellbinding start to the season. 

Renato Sanches – 5 

Lionel Messi – 9 – Mesmerisingly good once again from the Argentine, who was inches away from a hat-trick to add to his two assists, one for Neymar and another for Soler late on in the game.

Neymar – 8 – The only member of the front three not to grab a double, but just as involved as his attacking partners. Constantly destabilising the opposition defence and driving attacks forward, but the Brazilian could have been slightly more efficient in front of goal.

Kylian Mbappé – 8  – The most active player at the start of the game, and would have had an assist even earlier had Neymar not opened up his foot too much faced with a virtual open goal. An integral part of PSG’s attacks, even when not directly involved – his run which dragged two defenders away was crucial in Neymar’s goal in the first half. Two spectacular curlers into the top right corner for a double, once again confirming that the Frenchman is very much able to block out all outside distractions when he steps onto the pitch.



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