Paris St-Germain 7-1 Celtic: PSG run riot as gap in quality shows
Paris Saint-Germain 7 (Neymar 9, 22; Cavani 28, 79 Mbappe 35, Verratti 75, Alves 80)
Celtic 1 (Dembele 1)
The Scottish champions were mercilessly filleted for the second time by a magnificent Paris Saint-Germain side who followed up their 5-0 win in Glasgow earlier this season with an even more compelling and deadly display on their own patch.
Inspired by the brilliance of Brazilian superstar Neymar, whose double took his personal tally against Celtic to seven goals in five matches, PSG responded in scintillating fashion to the shock concession of a first minute goal from Moussa Dembele.
Dembele’s goal may have given the 2000-strong Celtic support inside the Parc des Princes a moment to cherish, however briefly, but it simply had the effect of stirring up a hornet’s nest as PSG responded by swarming relentlessly over the visitors during a breathlessly captivating first half.
Just as they did in Glasgow, PSG’s £400 million front three of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe all scored before half-time. Celtic simply had no answer and by the end of the evening were fortunate only to ship seven goals.
Participation in the Champions League provides Celtic with a record financial turnover but they have found themselves out of their depth on the pitch. The Europa League still beckons, however, if they can hold off Anderlecht in the final match of this campaign on 5 December to secure third place in Group B.
Celtic were entitled to take satisfaction from much of their early play here, producing several moments of progressive and slick attacking work after their stunning early opener. But when forced onto the back foot, as they were regularly, they could not cope with the electrifying skill and dynamism of the French champions.
Most consolation goals are scored in the dying embers of a match but Celtic’s crumb of comfort here came with barely 60 seconds on the clock. They were gifted a corner by an inexplicably slack piece of play from Dani Alves, the Brazilian full-back shanking the ball out of play while under absolutely no pressure.
Celtic took full advantage, catching the PSG defence cold with a clever set piece straight from their Lennoxtown training ground. Olivier Ntcham took the corner from the right, picking out the unmarked Dembele on the edge of the penalty area. The striker’s right foot shot was hit with decent power, although PSG ‘keeper Alphonse Areola would feel he should have kept it out, getting his hands to the ball but merely helping it on its way into the net.
The home side appeared stunned for a few minutes, perhaps unsurprisingly given the level of dominance they are accustomed to enjoying from first minute to last in most matches. Celtic, buoyed their early success, knocked the ball around with composure and confidence.
But it did not take too long for PSG to find their rhythm in devastating fashion. Their ninth minute equaliser saw the outstanding Adrien Rabiot pounce on a loose pass from Celtic captain Scott Brown and find Neymar on the left of the penalty area from where the £198 million man guided a low shot across Craig Gordon into the opposite corner of the net.
As if they didn’t have enough to contend with already, Celtic were forced into a change just four minutes later when Mikael Lustig’s evening was cut short by injury. He was replaced by Nir Bitton, giving the Israeli midfielder the unenviable task of filling in at right-back where he was up against Neymar.
To their credit, Celtic continued to carry a threat on the counter-attack and Dembele and Ntcham both came reasonably close with attempts from distance as they both sought to make a positive impression on their return to their home city.
But PSG had now well and truly found the fluency in possession which makes them such a potent force and they sliced open the Celtic defence to take the lead in the 22nd minute. Neymar combined sublimely with Marco Verratti to create the opportunity, the little magician producing another unerring left foot finish beyond Gordon.
Six minutes later, it was 3-1 as Celtic found themselves staring down the barrel of another heavy defeat in this tournament. Neymar turned provider this time, nodding the ball back across the six yard box to provide Cavani with a simple close range finish for what was his 150th goal for PSG.
It was a daunting occasion for Jozo Simunovic to make his return at the heart of Celtic’s back four after a two-month injury absence. The big Bosnian was booked for a foul on Mbappe in the 35th minute, conceding the free-kick which led to PSG’s fourth goal. Celtic were unable to clear Julian Draxler’s set piece and Marquinhos knocked the ball into the path of the unmarked Mbappe whose right foot shot went through Gordon’s hands and in off the inside of a post.
Gordon was more convincing when he denied Mbappe with a sharp save four minutes before the interval and this was now every inch a damage limitation exercise for Celtic.
Initially, there seemed to be a drop in the intensity of PSG’s play after the break, perhaps with their weekend assignment against domestic league title rivals Monaco in mind. But any hopes among the Celtic fans that they would get off more lightly in the second half were dashed by the late blitz of goals which left Gordon and his defence shell-shocked.
Before then, Dembele passed up a decent chance to reduce the deficit when he was picked out by Brown’s excellent cross from the right but the striker took too much time on the ball before dragging his shot wide of Areola’s right hand post.
The closing quarter of an hour was tortuous for Celtic. Verratti stoked PSG’s attacking fire back into life when he drilled home a right foot shot to make it 5-1 in the 75th minute. Four minutes later, number six arrived when Cavani latched onto Layvin Kurzawa’s cross and beat Gordon via the inside of his right hand post.
There was suddenly an air of capitulation about Celtic as Alves got in on the act to smash home the seventh with still 10 minutes remaining before the visitors could be put out of their misery.
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN: Areola, Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa; Verratti (Lo Celso 76), Rabiot, Draxler (Pastore 66); Mbappe (Di Maria 76), Cavani, Neymar. Subs not used: Trapp, Kimpembe, Meunier, Berchiche.
CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig (Bitton 13), Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Eboue 69); Forrest, Rogic, McGregor; Dembele (Griffiths 77). Subs not used: De Vries, Roberts, Sinclair, Armstrong.
REFEREE: T. Sidiropoulos (Greece)