Neymar scored twice to lead Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-1 victory at 10-man Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday, leaving both teams’ hopes of reaching the knockout stage uncertain heading into their final group games.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær was left to rue not bringing off Fred after he escaped with only a booking for a first-half head butt.
The midfielder was sent off in the 70th minute for a second yellow card after his challenge on former United midfielder Ander Herrera just after United had gone 2-1 down when Marquinhos scored.
“Fred played really disciplined in the second half,” Solskjær said. “He was lucky to stay on in the first half.”
Marcus Rashford had equalized in the 32nd minute after Neymar had taken only six minutes to put last season’s beaten finalists in front. The Brazilian struck again in stoppage time at an empty Old Trafford.
“This is good for our confidence,” Marquinhos said. “We’re still in the competition and very happy.”
While United remains top of Group H, PSG and Leipzig are only behind on goal difference. United only needs a point in Leipzig on Tuesday when PSG hosts Istanbul Basaksehir, which is six points behind the top three.
Losing to United in the Group H opener in Paris had put the heat on Thomas Tuchel, who has picked up two points from the last two French league games.
“We earned our luck today by hard work, by good mentality,” Tuchel said. “It’s not the most easy time for us. We don’t play at the highest level.”
The visitors did at the start in Manchester when Kylian Mbappé’s deflected shot bounced into the path of Neymar to score from the near post.
It took David de Gea’s save, palming away Alessandro Florenzi’s shot, to prevent the deficit from growing bigger for United.
Good fortune came in the form of Fred not being sent off for pushing his head toward Leandro Paredes, despite a VAR review.
“To give a yellow card I was very surprised,” Tuchel said. “It says he touched him but not hard enough for a red card?”
After the reprieve, United drew level when Anthony Martial’s shot was parried by Kaylor Navas and Rashford’s strike deflected off Danilo past the goalkeeper for his sixth goal in five European games.
Fortunately again for United, Paredes was booked rather than Fred, who stepped on the PSG midfielder’s foot.
That still didn’t prompt Solskjær to substitute Fred at the break.
United had chances to go in front after the break when Martial lifted a shot over and Edinson Cavani tried to chip Navas.
“It could perhaps have been completely different if they had scored,” Herrera said. “But we have players who can kill a match.”
PSG was back in front in the 69th.
De Gea pushed Mitchel Bakker’s low shot wide but from the resulting corner Herrera passed to Abdou Diallo, who squared across the six-yard box for Marquinhos to knock the ball under the goalkeeper.
It was then a less contentious challenge on Herrera from Fred that earned the second yellow card. This time there was no VAR review, even as Fred lingered.
The game was getting away from United and it was killed off when Neymar began a move around the halfway line that led to the third goal.
The Brazilian sent a long-range pass to Mbappe and Rafinha then teed up Neymar to sidefoot into an open net.
“Their goals were scrappy goals, a ricochet and pinball around the box,” United captain Harry Maguire said. “I feel we deserved something.”
Chelsea win group as 34-year-old Giroud scores 4 v Sevilla
Striker Olivier Giroud became the oldest player to score a hat trick in the Champions League era on Wednesday, finishing with four goals to help Chelsea comfortably beat Sevilla 4-0 and secure first place in Group E.
At age 34, Giroud is the oldest player with a hat trick in the competition since Ferenc Puskás scored three goals in a European Cup match in 1965.
“When I’m on the pitch I just try to enjoy it,” Giroud told UEFA.com. “I try to be patient and keep the faith and keep believing and I just try to give something else to the team and sometimes, you know, you feel anything can happen and this night was one of them.”
The French international scored with neat shots from inside the area in the eighth and 54th minutes, then added to the lead with a header in the 74th and a penalty kick converted in the 83rd.
“It was an amazing performance, to score four goals in the Champions League is a fantastic achievement. I am delighted for him,” Chelsea coach Frank Lampard said. “He is the ultimate professional. He isn’t always a regular, but his performances have shown that he is a great sign for young players to keep training well. It was a complete performance.”
The only other time Giroud had scored four goals was with Tours in Ligue 2 in France.
“He is a very good striker and is always putting himself in good position,” Sevilla defender Diego Carlos said. “His goals showed how good a striker he is.”
Giroud’s hat trick was only Chelsea’s second in the Champions League, after Didier Drogba in 2006.
Both teams had already qualified for the knockout stage in advance and rested several regular starters in Seville.
The victory gave Chelsea 13 points, three more than Sevilla. Krasnodar earlier beat Rennes 1-0 at home in the other group match to reach four points and secure third place. Rennes stayed in last place with one point.
Chelsea secured the head-to-head tiebreaker against Sevilla with the win at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium. The teams drew 0-0 in England in their first match in the group.
The result on Wednesday ended Sevilla’s 14-match unbeaten streak in European matches at home. The Europa League champion hadn’t lost since a 2-1 defeat against Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals in 2018.
Experimental Barcelona beats Ferencváros 3-0
Antoine Griezmann scored for the third straight game to lead an experimental Barcelona team to a 3-0 win at Hungarian champion Ferencváros in the Champions League on Wednesday.
With progression to the last 16 already secure with four wins from four games, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman could afford to rest stars like Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho and goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Griezmann and Martin Braithwaite got the chance to impress up front, aided by inconsistent French winger Ousmane Dembélé on the left and 20-year-old Portuguese forward Francisco Trincão on the right.
It didn’t take long for the show to start. Dembélé combined well with left back Jordi Alba before crossing for Griezmann to score with his heel in the 14th minute.
It was the first time Griezmann had scored in three consecutive games for Barcelona. The France forward, who endured a difficult first season at the club, celebrated with a little dance.
Late Leipzig beats Başakşehir 4-3
Substitute Alexander Sörloth scored in injury time for Leipzig to beat İstanbul Başakşehir 4-3 on Wednesday and boost its chances of advancing to the Champions League knockout rounds.
İrfan Can Kahveci scored a hat trick as Başakşehir twice came from behind to make it 3-3 with five minutes remaining, but Sörloth first hit the post when a rebound hit his face in the last minute, then fired in the winner in the second minute of injury time.
It was the Norway striker’s first goal for Leipzig since he joined in the offseason from Turkish team Trabzonspor.
“Of course I’m happy about my first goal. It’s always important” said Sörloth, who hadn’t scored in eight Bundesliga appearances. “It almost had to happen in Istanbul.”
Leipzig moved level with Group H leader Manchester United on nine points ahead of the English team’s home game against Paris Saint-Germain later. PSG was on six points ahead of the late game.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 2, 2020
Brugge beats Zenit 3-0, keeps Champions League hopes alive
Charles de Ketelaere scored the opener and won a penalty as Club Brugge put its Champions league campaign back on track with a 3-0 win over Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday.
The result moved Brugge to within two points of second-place Lazio ahead of their final Group F match in Rome next week, where the winner will advance. Leader Borussia Dortmund has a one-point lead over Lazio, which would also advance with a draw against Brugge. Last-place Zenit was already out of contention.
“We did a great job today, now we have the chance to qualify,” said Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. “We are already qualified for the Europa League, the match in Rome is a bonus and we can do it.”
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