Ney­mar and Mbappé leave Celtic floun­der­ing

The Guardian - Sport - - Football Champions League - Ewan Mur­ray Celtic Park

Celtic 0

Paris Saint-Ger­main 5 Ney­mar 19, Mbappé 34, Ca­vani 40pen 85, Lustig 84og

Bren­dan Rodgers may be­moan the luck of the draw. On the ev­i­dence of a har­row­ing evening for Celtic, fac­ing a Paris Saint-Ger­main side de­ter­mined to de­liver a state­ment of in­tent to open the Cham­pi­ons League was al­ways go­ing to be an in­sur­mount­able chal­lenge.

Some con­text for Rodgers and Celtic will ar­rive with what PSG do next. Celtic, though, need to ban­ish this French can­ter from their minds in prepa­ra­tion for what has al­ways looked a piv­otal Group B fix­ture at An­der­lecht in a fort­night. Here, Euro­pean foot­ball’s haves bru­tally ex­posed the have-nots to the point where the points were se­cure by half-time.

PSG’s front three of Ney­mar, Edin­son Ca­vani and Kylian Mbappé – anx­ious to an­nounce them­selves as col­lec­tively the best in Europe – helped them­selves to goals. The fi­nal tally for the vis­i­tors just about ex­plains an on and off-field gulf. Too many of Celtic’s play­ers did not per­form to their ca­pa­bil­i­ties but PSG’s play was a joy to be­hold.

Celtic’s short­age of de­fen­sive op­tions meant a start for the 18-year-old Anthony Ral­ston at right-back. This rep­re­sented only his fifth ap­pear­ance. For all this will in­evitably lead to carp­ing re­gard­ing the lack of depth of tal­ent for an en­vi­ron­ment such as this, for Celtic to field an academy prod­uct in such a mar­quee fix­ture is in part tes­ta­ment to Rodgers’s fresh think­ing. The sim­ple move would have been to de­ploy a more ex­pe­ri­enced player but out of po­si­tion. With Jozo Simunovic Celtic’s only fit and ortho­dox cen­tre-half, Mikael Lustig stepped in­side to al­low Ral­ston his start. Who was in di­rect op­po­si­tion to the teenager? Ney­mar. It can only get con­sid­er­ably eas­ier from here.

If Cham­pi­ons League places were awarded on the ba­sis of at­mos­phere and spec­ta­cle, Celtic need not fret about ar­du­ous qual­i­fy­ing ties year on year. The deaf­en­ing, spine-tin­gling level of noise as Zadok the Priest ar­rived as the stan­dard pre­cur­sor to a Cham­pi­ons League tie made vis­i­tors from all cor­ners sit up and take no­tice. Celtic’s sup­port­ers don’t de­mand an­nual par­tic­i­pa­tion at this level; they do, how­ever, rel­ish ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment among Europe’s elite.

PSG’s open­ing to the game was hardly a shock, their dom­i­na­tion of the ball forc­ing Celtic into a style com­pletely re­moved from the Scottish do­mes­tic scene. The hosts had to be more ruth­less when af­forded hope than was the case in the 10th minute, Olivier Ntcham shoot­ing well wide from 25 yards when Pa­trick Roberts was in clear space to his right.

PSG’s next mean­ing­ful at­tack re­sulted in the ball find­ing Craig Gor­don’s net, with an as­sis­tant ref­eree’s flag deny­ing Ca­vani the open­ing goal af­ter he met a low cross from Layvin Kurzawa. Ca­vani bared his teeth again mo­ments later, Gor­don this time the match for his half-vol­ley.

The harsh com­ment at this junc­ture would be to sug­gest Celtic did not heed the warn­ings. They had what looked a per­fectly le­git­i­mate shout for a foul on Scott Sin­clair as PSG claimed mid­field pos­ses­sion. As Celtic protested, PSG ma­rauded for­ward. Adrien Rabiot found him­self goal side of Ral­ston, with the mid­fielder feed­ing Ney­mar. The Brazil­ian, al­ready a pan­tomime vil­lain in th­ese parts af­ter spats in the re­cent past, only an­gered the Celtic sup­port even more with his com­posed fin­ish over the on­rush­ing Gor­don.

Celtic al­most re­sponded im­me­di­ately by virtue of a weapon which Unai Emery, the PSG head coach, had iden­ti­fied be­fore the match. Leigh Grif­fiths con­jured up a won­der­ful free-kick from more than 30 yards out, with Alphonse Are­ola leap­ing to sup­ply a save of iden­ti­cal qual­ity.

PSG dou­bled their lead with a goal which in­volved each of their cel­e­brated front three but in wholly un­ortho­dox style. Ney­mar was un­selfish in head­ing Marco Ver­ratti’s cross back to­wards Ca­vani, who promptly took a fresh-air swipe at the ball. The No9 was spared ig­nominy by Mbappé at the far post. Ca­vani notched No3 from the penalty spot, five min­utes be­fore the break, af­ter Simunovic pulled the same player’s shirt. PSG’s can­ter was all too much for one punter in a green scarf, who raced on to the pitch as Celtic were about to kick off be­fore try­ing to kick Mbappé. Sum­ming up the Celtic night thus far, he missed. Celtic be­gan the sec­ond half in bullish mood but still, un­fazed, PSG de­fended as if barely trou­bled while at­tack­ing at will. In Rabiot they had a per­former ar­guably more im­pres­sive than the for­wards who will in­evitably claim wide­spread at­ten­tion. His re­moval shortly af­ter the hour mark could have been de­scribed as an act of gen­eros­ity, were his re­place­ment not Ju­lian Draxler.

Ney­mar spurned a glo­ri­ous op­por­tu­nity for No4 af­ter 70 min­utes. Draxler trig­gered panic in the Celtic goal area with a cross, Lustig’s de­flec­tion suc­ceed­ing where Ney­mar could not. Ca­vani promptly headed in a fifth from a seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble an­gle. Celtic are rarely routed at home; it will be of lit­tle com­fort that the in­sti­ga­tors look the real deal.

Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Im­ages

Ney­mar’s shot evades out­stretched legs and hurled bod­ies to open the scor­ing for Paris Saint-Ger­main in their rout of Celtic, who could muster no re­sponse to the vis­i­tors’ fire­power

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.