Paris (AFP) – Left-back Layvin Kurzawa was an unlikely hat-trick hero as Paris Saint-Germain destroyed Anderlecht 5-0 on Tuesday and sealed their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with two group games to spare.
Marco Verratti and Neymar had scored brilliant first-half goals for the hosts at the Parc des Princes to leave the Belgian side demoralised and with too much to do to turn the game around.
Kurzawa then scored his three goals in the second half and the result, combined with Bayern Munich’s 2-1 win away to Celtic, allowed the French giants to secure their place in the knockout phase for a sixth consecutive season, the essential assured before the start of November.
Unai Emery’s expensively assembled squad have won all four games in Champions League Group B, scoring 17 goals and conceding none, and can now focus on securing top spot with a home game against Celtic and a trip to Bayern — who are three points behind — still to come.
Anderlecht, in contrast, are yet to register a point or even score a goal in the competition after this latest defeat which followed a 4-0 reverse at home to PSG a fortnight ago.
They could still pip Celtic to the consolation of third and a Europa League spot in the New Year, but their approach to this game was telling, with coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck suggesting that an upcoming domestic league meeting with Club Brugge was his priority.
– Neymar beauty –
Europe most definitely is a priority for PSG, and Emery resisted any temptation to drop star teenage forward Kylian Mbappe, disappointing in recent matches.
That meant Angel Di Maria had to settle for a place on the bench, with Neymar back in the side after a one-game domestic ban.
The world’s most expensive player almost opened the scoring inside 35 seconds, being denied by goalkeeper Frank Boeckx after Mbappe picked him out.
Otherwise he was wasteful for much of the first half and Boeckx dealt with everything that was thrown at him until Verratti struck on the half-hour mark.
Mbappe picked out the Italian in the penalty box to the left and Verratti cut back onto his right foot to curl a fine shot into the far corner for just his second goal in 40 Champions League appearances.
Dani Alves sliced an effort on the half-volley that grazed the post on its way past before the home side made it 2-0 in stoppage time at the end of the half.
Hardly anything had come off for Neymar until he played a corner from the left short to Julian Draxler, received the return ball and cut inside to curl a brilliant effort beyond Boeckx and in for his 11th goal in 12 games in a PSG shirt.
Neymar then made the third goal in the 52nd minute as his free-kick came back off the post and Kurzawa followed in to convert the rebound.
In the 72nd minute the French international defender scored again, heading in unmarked from an Alves ball across the face of goal for his second of the game.
But Kurzawa, who had never previously scored in the Champions League proper, was not finished there as he completed his hat-trick 12 minutes from time.
An Alves pass was helped on by Edinson Cavani and substitute Di Maria, and Kurzawa, storming forward from left-back, drilled a low left-foot shot into the far corner to complete the rout.
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