Di Maria no Angel for Real Madrid as Paris St Germain punish Zidane’s men

Di Maria no Angel for Real Madrid as Paris St Germain punish Zidane’s men

Paris St Germain 3 - 0 Real Madrid

Angel Di Maria ensured Paris St Germain sent out a statement to the rest of Europe with his double in a 3-0 Champions League win over Real Madrid.

The Argentinian haunted his old club, who have won the European Cup 13 times, with a first-half brace at Parc des Princes.

It increases the pressure on Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane and continues his struggles since he returned to the Bernabeu for a second managerial spell in March.

Neymar is suspended for Paris St Germain’s first two group games in this season’s Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)
Neymar is suspended for Paris St Germain’s first two group games in this season’s Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)

For PSG and Thomas Tuchel, this victory has put them top of Group A, but more crucially demonstrated they can cope without the key attacking trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.

With Neymar suspended and Cavani and Mbappe out injured, loan signing Mauro Icardi made his full debut and led the line for the Ligue 1 side, who wore a white kit while the away side were in a dark stripe.

Alongside Icardi was Di Maria and the former Madrid winger opened the scoring with 14 on the clock, firing past Thibaut Courtois at his near post from eight yards out after Juan Bernet’s cut-back.

The visitors improved after conceding the opener and Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema looked to test Keylor Navas in the PSG goal, but failed to direct efforts on target.

Gareth Bale went close with a free-kick attempt just past the half-hour mark and then Tuchel saw his team double their advantage.

Former Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye was heavily involved, charging forward with the ball by the touchline before he found his team-mate in space.

Di Maria helped Madrid win La Decima in 2014 and reminded them again of his quality with a wonderful curling strike into the bottom corner, which again left Courtois with no chance.

Neymar and Mbappe were sitting next to each other in the stand and could not contain their delight, but it was almost quickly diminished two minutes later in the 35th minute.

Eric Choupo-Moting has featured regularly for Paris St Germain since he joined the club in August 2018 (Martin Rickett/PA)
Eric Choupo-Moting has featured regularly for Paris St Germain since he joined the club in August 2018 (Martin Rickett/PA)

Bale controlled Presnel Kimpembe’s clearance and sumptuously lobbed over Navas from just inside the area on the right-hand side, but VAR ruled he had handled the ball in the build-up and it was disallowed.

It remained 2-0 at half-time, despite more chances, and Icardi’s night finished with an hour played as former Stoke forward Eric Choupo-Moting came on for him and PSG almost added another straight after.

Di Maria nearly turned provider a minute later when he found Pablo Sarabia after a neat team move, but Courtois denied the Spanish midfielder.

Zidane had seen enough and made a double substitution with 20 minutes left, but the introduction of Luka Jovic and Lucas Vazquez for James Rodriguez and Hazard failed to have the desired effect.

The pair combined for a chance in the 76th minute and yet the linesman’s flag ensured the goal was ruled out before PSG grabbed a third in stoppage time.

A swift counter-attack saw Thomas Meunier apply the finish, after another Bernat assist, to wrap up a fine night for Tuchel’s team and he will hope this is the start of a successful run in the competition, not another false dawn.

Madrid were missing captain Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric, but Zidane’s problems show no signs of disappearing on what was a disappointing night for him back in France.

- Press Association

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