Mbappe hat-trick helps PSG thrash Barca; Liverpool win at Leipzig

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Berlin (dpa) – A sensational hat-trick from Kylian Mbappe helped Paris Saint-Germain hammer Barcelona 4-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday while Liverpool are also on course for the quarter-finals of the Champions League having won 2-0 away to RB Leipzig.

The elite tournament resumed with the first knock-out ties of the last 16 in the continental competition played during the coronavirus pandemic.

Barca hosted PSG behind closed doors while Leipzig welcomed Liverpool to Budapest as Germany is currently not allowing non-citizens/residents to enter the country from the UK.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the 4-1 lead during the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 soccer match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain held at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, 16 February 2021. EPA-EFE/ALBERTO ESTEVEZ

Lionel Messi’s penalty gave Barcelona the lead but Mbappe struck either side of half-time, Moise Kean added another and Mbappe completed his hat-trick with a superb finish as PSG took control of the tie that is repeats the sensational encounter at this stage in 2017.

On that occasion Barcelona overturned a 4-0 first leg deficit 6-1 at home and must now launch a similar comeback attempt – this time in Paris on March 10.

That is when six-time champions Liverpool, last winners in 2019, will expect to finish the job against Leipzig at Anfield. Second half goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane earned them a deserved win in the duel between German bosses Juergen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann in the Hungarian capital.

On Wednesday Porto meet Juventus and Sevilla host Borussia Dortmund while holders Bayern Munich resume away to Lazio next Tuesday.

Neymar was influential in turning the tie with PSG in Barcelona’s favour four years ago but the Brazilian star missed the match with his former club due to injury though PSG – with 22-year-old Mbappe almost unplayable – scarcely missed him.

Mbappe’s quick-feet in the box after a nice flick from Marco Verrati levelled the match and his clinical finish when Marc-Andre ter Stegen could only parry a 65th minute cross put PSG in front.

Ter Stegen had previously denied Mbappe on several occasions and did so again before Kean was given space at a free-kick to head home unchallenged with 20 minutes left.

Barca tried to rally but left themselves exposed and Mbappe curled into the top corner after Julian Draxler raced clear on the counter to cap a glorious night for Maurico Pochettino, who had coached PSG only since early this year.

“It’s a question of continuity,” said Mbappe. “The coach has done a great job since he joined. But he’s continued the work of [Thomas] Tuchel who started an extraordinary job, with the final [last season].

“We’re not yet in peak form, even if tonight was very good, but we’ll continue to improve so we can repeat this type of match.”

PSG, who beat Leipzig in the semis last season, were superior even when Messi gave the hosts the lead from the spot after Layvin Kurzawa accidentally clipped Frenkie de Jong in the 27th minute.

“We have to admit that they have been superior,” said Ronald Koeman, who is having a difficult debut season as Barca coach. “They have shown that they have a more complete team than us.

“A 1-4 defeat is normally very difficult. I can lie to you but losing at home 1-4 there are very few options.”

Leipzig too are up against it having came within inches of the opener at the Puskas Arena when Dani Olmo headed off the post in just two minutes.

Liverpool slowly took control and had already threatened several times before Leipzig imploded with two horrific errors early in the second half.

Marcel Sabitzer’s pass inadvertently released Salah to finish well and when Dayot Upamecano – who confirmed a move to Bayern this week – fluffed a 58th minute clearance, Mane showed no mercy.

“It was an important game for us, a tough game and we’re really happy overall,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson told BT Sport

Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi (L) of RB Leipzig in action against Mohamed Salah of FC Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between RB Leipzig and Liverpool in the Puskas Ferenc Arena in Budapest, Hungary, 16 February 2021. EPA-EFE/TIBOR ILLYES

“From start to finish, defensively throughout the team we pressed really well and won the ball back. A good win but it’s only half the job done.”

Liverpool, riddled with defensive problems and injuries all season, are out of contention to retain their Premier League title but at least one more round in the Champions League looks likely.

“In the second half we actually had a super game but made two massive mistakes,” said Nagelsmann. “They are punished at this level.”

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