Ney­mar starts hit­ting his straps

The Citizen (KZN) - - Internatio­nal - Paris

– Ney­mar (above) marked his first start in a Cham­pi­ons League game in a year by scor­ing one goal and set­ting up two more as Paris Saint-Ger­main cruised to a 5-0 win over Galatasara­y on Wednesday.

Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sara­bia net­ted in the first half at the Parc des Princes, with the world’s most ex­pen­sive player get­ting his team’s third within two min­utes of the restart.

Kylian Mbappe scored the fourth goal and sub­sti­tute Edin­son Ca­vani added a late penalty as PSG – who had al­ready qual­i­fied for the last 16 as group win­ners – made it 16 points out of a pos­si­ble 18 in Group A to fin­ish five points ahead of Real Madrid.

How­ever, it was Ney­mar who made the big­gest im­pres­sion, four days af­ter star­ring in a 3-1 do­mes­tic vic­tory at Mont­pel­lier and an in­jury-rav­aged year to the day af­ter his last start in Europe, against Red Star Bel­grade.

“Ney­mar was al­ready su­per­im­por­tant in a very dif­fi­cult game at Mont­pel­lier. He was de­ci­sive in that game and he is im­prov­ing,” said coach Thomas Tuchel.

“He is work­ing hard off the ball, and go­ing for­ward he is find­ing his form. It is eas­ier now for him to ac­cel­er­ate, and he was re­ally, re­ally good.”

De­spite PSG al­ready be­ing through and France be­ing in the grip of a trans­port strike that has al­most com­pletely shut down the Paris metro sys­tem, the Parc des Princes was still largely full.

That in­cluded a size­able trav­el­ling sup­port, and there were in­ci­dents out­side the sta­dium ahead of the match be­tween ri­val fan groups, with po­lice re­spond­ing by fir­ing tear­gas be­fore calm re­turned.

The game it­self car­ried the air of a train­ing ex­er­cise for the home side, with Tuchel rest­ing stars such as An­gel Di Maria, Thi­ago Silva, Marco Ver­ratti and goal­keeper Key­lor Navas.

There was a start in mid­field for the 17-year-old Tan­guy Kouassi, who made his se­nior de­but last week­end and has still not signed full pro­fes­sional terms.

The two big­gest stars were on the pitch, though, and both Ney­mar and Mbappe proved too hot for the Turk­ish cham­pi­ons to han­dle.

Mbappe lifted the ball over ad­vanc­ing Galatasara­y goal­keeper Fer­nando Muslera, leav­ing Icardi with an easy fin­ish to make it 1-0 just af­ter the half-hour mark.

It was Icardi’s 12th goal of the sea­son. – AFP

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