PSG 2-1 Liverpool
PSG 2-1 Liverpool: Juan Bernat and Neymar strike to leave Jurgen Klopp’s side needing win in final Champions League group game against Napoli
- Juan Bernat opened the scoring in the 13th minute by beating Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson at near post
- Neymar doubled his side’s lead to help PSG leapfrog Liverpool and move into second place in Group C
- PSG’s Marco Verratti was lucky to escape a red card for a late lunge on Liverpool’s Joe Gomez in first half
- James Milner scored a penalty but it was not enough for Reds, who must now win against Napoli in final game
So, after three successive away defeats in this season’s Champions League, Liverpool need to do something that normally comes quite naturally to them.
A decent win at home against Napoli in a fortnight and Jurgen Klopp’s team will make it to the last 16. Victory by a 1-0 score — or by two goals — will do it largely because tied teams are separated by head-to-head record.
Liverpool have a chance and we are in for another stellar night at Anfield. They have been asked bigger questions in Europe in the past and found answers.
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE
PSG (4-3-3): Buffon 6, Kehrer 7, Thiago Silva 7, Kimpembe 7.5, Bernat 7.5, Verratti 8, Marquinhos 7, Di Maria 6 (Alves 65mins, 6), Mbappe 8.5 (Rabiot 85), Neymar 7, Cavani 8 (Choupo-Moting 65, 6)
Subs not used: Areola, Draxler, Dagba, N’Soki
Goals: Bernat 13, Neymar 37
Booked: Verratti, Neymar
Manager: Tuchel 8
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson 8, Gomez 6.5, Lovren 6, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 7, Milner 7 (Shaqiri 77), Henderson 6, Wijnaldum 5 (Keita 66, 6), Salah 6, Firmino 5 (Sturridge 71, 6), Mane 7
Subs not used: Mignolet, Fabinho, Matip, Alexander-Arnold
Goal: Milner 45 (pen)
Booked: Wijnaldum, Gomez, Sturridge, Keita, Van Dijk, Robertson
Manager: Klopp 6
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland) 6
Star man: Mbappe
Ratings by Dominic King
That, however, is pretty much where the good news starts and ends. This looked a tough group at the outset and that is how it has turned out.
Nevertheless, Liverpool have made a bit of a mess of things in the Champions League so far and nobody would have expected that after their run to the final last time round.
In three away games, Liverpool have shipped five goals and nobody won anything at this level defending as they did here at times against an exuberant and occasionally exhilarating Paris Saint-Germain side.
They were 2-0 down after 37 minutes and it could have been more. To be only a goal down at half-time after James Milner’s penalty was something of a miracle.
PSG were wonderful at times. Their gilded front four of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel di Maria and Edinson Cavani were in irrepressible form, at least when standing upright.
The longer the night went on, the more we saw players in white fall to earth trying to con a poor, indecisive referee.
But by then the French team had inflicted their damage.
In Paris, European success has not yet been bought by the millions of petrodollars. Big results have too often proved beyond them on this stage. So PSG will see this as a landmark result.
Here was their revenge and they celebrated as though they had achieved something special. Still to travel to Belgrade for their final game, PSG are not yet sure of qualification, but it would be a surprise if they messed it up.
In the opening stages they were dynamite. One of Liverpool’s issues this season is that Klopp seems unsure of his best central defensive partnership.
Here he went with Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren, with 21-year-old Joe Gomez at right back.
Between them, Neymar and Mbappe tore poor Gomez to pieces. Both goals came from that side and so did a number of other opportunities.
Meanwhile, from deeper, playmaker Marco Verratti was just as potent and Liverpool struggled to cope. The opening goal was typical of PSG’s football as they swept the ball upfield on the back of progressive passing in the 13th minute.
The danger might have been cleared had Van Dijk been able to get a firmer foot on Mbappe’s low cross. But instead the ball looped into the path of Juan Bernat and a sound first touch moved the ball inside Gomez, before an explosive second drove it low to the right of goalkeeper Alisson, who seemed off balance.
Verratti was lucky to stay on the field after a horrible lunge at Gomez, but that was forgotten as PSG speared Liverpool with an absolutely breathtaking second goal. When Roberto Firmino lost the ball deep in French territory, there seemed to be little danger, but the speed with which Neymar and Mbappe moved the ball to counter was astonishing.
Mbappe’s cross reached Cavani, whose shot was saved well by Alisson, but Neymar had followed play and drove in the loose ball.
Liverpool looked out of the game. The traffic was only flowing one way. But referee Szymon Marciniak was persuaded, rightly, by his assistant on the goal-line to award a penalty for Di Maria’s trip on Sadio Mane, and when Milner scored right-footed, the English team were unexpectedly reborn.
After that they were better but still not good enough. For all the possession they had, Liverpool created precious little. For all Klopp’s protestations, Salah is a yard off what he needs to be, while Firmino was very poor.
So, this was another bad night for Liverpool but opportunity remains. That feels strange but they won’t care.
In 2004-05, they were heading out of the competition until Steven Gerrard struck four minutes from the end of their final group game against Olympiacos at Anfield. And we all know what happened after that.