Paris St Germain’s Edinson Cavani swapped shirts with Barcelona and fellow Uruguay striker Luis Suarez after Tuesday’s Champions League last-16, first leg tie knowing his was the most valuable on the night after the French champions’ 4-0 victory.
Suarez was the first of the pair to arrive in Europe in 2006 when he joined Dutch side Groningen and Cavani, born in the same town of Salto, followed a year later when he signed for Palermo.
Suarez has been the most prolific scorer of the two but it did not show on Tuesday at the Parc des Princes as Cavani showed great defensive commitment before sealing PSG’s win with a goal.
Suarez was nowhere to be seen as the famous ‘MSN’ trio of Lionel Messi, Suarez and Neymar was perfectly controlled by PSG’s tenacious midfield and defence.
While Suarez had no impact, Cavani, who was born three weeks after the Barca forward, did a great job in both areas.
By pressing high, the former Napoli striker pinned down Barca’s holding midfielder Sergio Busquets, preventing him from launching attacks.
Two goals from Angel di maria either side of a fine Julien Drzler srike had given PSG a commanding 3-0 lead.
Cavani missed a couple of chances early on but was in the right place to wrap up victory with a cool finish in the 71st minute for his 34th goal in 32 competitive games this season for PSG, who trail Ligue 1 leaders Monaco by three points.
“We have played great games since I joined the club but it is true that today is special,” said the 30-year-old, who this season is being used in his favourite lone striker position, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic having left for Manchester United.
But Cavani, celebrating his birthday, refused to get carried away ahead of the March 8 second leg at the Camp Nou with PSG chasing a fifth domestic league title and through to the League Cup final against Monaco and the last 16 of the French Cup.
“Right now I’m not thinking about the return leg,” he said. “We have to focus on the league, on the cups, which are also important. We’ll just have to be ready because you never know what can happen.”