Kylian Mbappe stands alone at the Nou Camp, a class above everyone else on the pitch
PSG striker Kylian Mbappe scored a momentous hat-trick as his team thumped Barcelona 4-1 in their Champions League last-16 first leg at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
Momentous because many will see it as a changing of the guard in European football: this tie was billed as Lionel Messi vs Mbappe (Neymar was absent for PSG but not missed), the fading star against the rising one, and Mbappe won the contest in dazzling style.
Messi had put Barca 1-0 up with a first-half penalty but Mbappe equalised with a classy control-and-finish to warn the Spanish giants that the visitors meant business.
Warming to his task, Mbappe then smashed PSG into the lead in the 65th minute while Moise Kean took advantage of some poor Barca marking to head in a third goal for the visitors just five minutes later.
The young Frenchman completed his treble in the 85th minute by curling the ball past Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the top corner. At 3-1, Barca might have had an outside chance in the second leg. But the 4-1 scoreline puts the tie to bed – and Barca head coach Ronald Koeman is surely a dead man walking now.
3 – Barcelona's 4-1 defeat to PSG was their second home defeat by three or more goals this season (also 0-3 vs Juventus) – as many as they suffered in their previous 20 seasons combined in all competitions. Decline. pic.twitter.com/LuRcQL2yS3
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 16, 2021
Incidentally, Mbappe became the first player to score a visiting hat-trick at the Nou Camp since Andriy Shevchenko did it for Dynamo Kiev in 1997.
“It is clear that [Mbappe] is a great footballer, today he has shown it with this hat-trick,” PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino said after the game. “The great players are creating a path and these three goals put him in the media spotlight.
“We had no doubts and we are happy for him, it’s normal, there are going to be rumours [about him leaving]. What is clear is that he is happy in Paris and we all want to find the best way.”
Man of the match: Kylian Mbappe (PSG)