Neymar analysis as Brazilian impresses but PSG suffer 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace to help Real Madrid recover from an early goal to win 3-1 in their Champions League round of 16 first leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain at the Bernabeu.

Adrien Rabiot opened the scoring for the visitors before Ronaldo equalised from the spot on the stroke of half-time.

The Portuguese then scored his second in the 83rd minute before Marcelo added another three minutes later.

Here, we anaylse Neymar’s performance.

STATISTICS 

Goals – 0

Assists – 1

Shots – 2

Shots on target – 1

Touches – 86

Passes – 49

Aerials won – 0

Key passes – 3

Dribbles – 13

Dispossessed – 6

30-SECOND REPORT

Neymar dominated the build up to this encounter and once it got underway, he made sure he remained in the limelight, riding challenges and drawing fouls right from the get go. While his final ball let him down on a couple of occasions, he was the creator in chief for his team.

The Brazilian would’ve been pleasantly surprised by the freedom he enjoyed. Nacho afforded Neymar far too much room, particularly in the first half. With Madrid not playing with traditional wingers, the full-back was outnumbered every time Yuri supported Neymar with an overlapping run.

His back-heeled assist for Rabiot to score was superb, showing great awareness. Once Cavani was taken off in the second half, he enjoyed a more central role along with Mbappe.

He breezed through the heart of Zinedine Zidane’s side on more than one occasion. In fact, he completed a remarkable 13 dribbles on the night. However, he should’ve scored right at the death from close range.

Neymar assisted Rabiot

Neymar assisted Rabiot

GOT RIGHT

Creativity – There was plenty of skill on show from the Brazilian. He bamboozled Madrid’s defenders and won a lot of fouls. His dribbling made inroads into the hosts’ defence but he also created plenty of chances with his passing in the final third, his back-heel for Rabiot’s goal included.

Involvement – Sometimes players can go missing when so much is expected of them on a big occasion. Neymar seemed to thrive under the spotlight though. He had 86 touches in the game and made three key passes.

GOT WRONG

End product – While he did create chances and assisted PSG’s goal, he also failed to make the most of a couple of great chances. He failed to play Mbappe in inside the area in the first half and crucially missed a great chance right at the end.

KEY MOMENTS

33rd min ASSIST: Mbappe does well on the right and while his cross evades Cavani, Neymar – under pressure from Nacho – is able to back-heel it into the path of Rabiot who finishes with aplomb.

38th min PASS: Neymar drives at the Madrid defence, makes his way into the box and then sets up Cavani. The Uruguayan swivels and shoots but Casemiro gets a vital block in to deflect the ball just wide.

49th min PASS: Lo Celso releases Neymar down the left who plays in Mbappe with space in the box. The Frenchman drills a low shot past Ramos but Navas gets down quickly to make the save.

93rd min CHANCE: Right at the death, Neymar gets on the end of Julian Draxler’s low cross but from close range, is only able to lift it over the crossbar.

Neymar (C)

Neymar (C)

VERDICT

Neymar definitely brought his A-game. He was at his mesmerising best at times and maybe a calmer head inside the box would have seen him contribute even more. The Brazilian had the Madrid defenders scrambling though and was a constant threat. He was PSG’s go-to man in attack and will need to be so again if they are to recover in the second leg.

RATING: 7/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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Liverpool things learned as hat-trick hero Sadio Mane steals the show in 5-0 win over Porto

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Sadio Mane's hat-trick earned Liverpool a stunning win.

Liverpool became the latest English side to emerge from an away first leg in control of their Champions League tie, blowing Porto away in an astonishing 5-0 win.

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino scored their customary goals but Sadio Mane was the star, grabbing a hat-trick.

Here are three things learned from the stunning win.

MANE STEALS THE LIMELIGHT

While there’s been plenty of talk about a Fab Four, and then a Fab Three after Philippe Coutinho left, Salah and Firmino have streaked away from their other partner in crime this season. There have been suggestions that Mane has struggled to adapt to no longer being Liverpool’s standout attacker, being forced into the shadows somewhat thanks to Salah’s incredible season.

A hat-trick in a knockout tie, away from home, should silence those doubts. His eye for goal remains undiminished, and while this was a strong team effort Mane deserved the plaudits for his display. The hat-trick in a 5-0 win has all but secured Liverpool’s passage to the Champions League quarterfinals – match-winning displays don’t come much better than that.

Salah and Firmino have hogged the headlines, but this was Mane's night.

Salah and Firmino have hogged the headlines, but this was Mane’s night.

WIJNALDUM SENDS A REMINDER

Liverpool have had a bit of a merry-go-round in terms of their midfield selection this season, with five players vying for three spots. Last season, one of those spots would have been guaranteed to Georginio Wijnaldum, but he hasn’t hit the same heights this season, and has thus often been out of the starting XI.

Given a starting berth today, the Dutchman reminded everyone just how good he can be when he’s on his game. His energy and running in midfield set the tone for Liverpool, and earned the Reds their opener. He never tired, driving Liverpool forward throughout the game, and his control of the ball in possession, not to mention his quick movement and passing, was outstanding.

Wijnaldum delivered a throwback performance,

Wijnaldum delivered a throwback performance,

LIVERPOOL’S DEFENDERS SHOW PROGRESS

The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk has been crucial, no doubt, but this was a night where his colleagues were the ones putting in more eye-catching displays. Young Trent Alexander-Arnold was supposed to be in for a tough night against Yacine Brahimi, but the 19-year-old won that duel hands down, to the extent that Brahimi was hooked with over half an hour to go and Porto chasing the game.

Andy Robertson was equally solid at left-back, while the much-maligned Dejan Lovren, had an excellent outing, reading the game well, stepping up to intercept and stop Porto’s attacks, looking assured in the tackle and composed on the ball. And when needed, Van Dijk was brilliant, with the highlight a superb goal-saving tackle in the second half.

Alexander-Arnold delivered an excellent defensive performance.

Alexander-Arnold delivered an excellent defensive performance.

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Analysis of Cristiano Ronaldo's two-goal display as Real Madrid come back to beat PSG 3-1

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to help Real Madrid recover from an early goal to win 3-1 in their Champions League round of 16 first leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain at the Bernabeu.

Adrien Rabiot opened the scoring for the visitors before Ronaldo equalised from the spot on the stroke of half-time.

The Portuguese then scored his second in the 83rd minute before Marcelo added another three minutes later.

Here, we anaylse Ronaldo’s performance.

STATISTICS 

Goals – 2

Assists – 0

Shots – 10

Shots on target – 4

Touches – 40

Passes – 20

Aerials won – 1

Key passes – 0

Dribbles – 0

Dispossessed – 1

30-SECOND REPORT

Starting alongside Karim Benzema in a front two, Ronaldo had the freedom to attack across the PSG back-line and took full advantage of that licence to roam. He consistently caught defenders on their heels with his darting runs and was involved in a couple of early chances for his side.

He did duck out of the game momentarily when PSG were on top but was up for the challenge and was part of Madrid’s revival. He chased down every ball and even closed down the Parisian’s where possible. The Portuguese star converted his penalty expertly to draw his side level and was relentless in the second half as well.

While the ball fell to him rather fortuitously for his second, once it did, he did well to divert it into the back of the net. After Areola parried Asensio’s cross into his path, he made the slightest adjustment with virtually no time to react to knee it into the goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2R)

Cristiano Ronaldo (2R)

GOT RIGHT

Movement – He poked and prodded at every spot in PSG’s defence and was often able to find space. He stretched the away side’s back-line not just with his runs in behind but with the way he would peel off into wide areas as well. His predatory instincts came to the fore for his second.

Work-rate – What? It’s not a facet of Ronaldo’s game that’s usually highlighted but he was definitely up for this encounter. He was persistent with his runs, toiling to unlock the back four regularly. He went some way towards defending from the front. An honest day’s work.

GOT WRONG

Finishing – He scored two vital goals on the night but by his own lofty standards, he should’ve at least had a hat-trick. He fizzed an early attempt wide, blazed one over the bar from inside the area with time and space and failed to beat Areola in a one-one-one. Only four of his 10 attempts found the target.

Free-kicks – In a game of this magnitude, a free-kick can make all the difference but Ronaldo squandered a couple of well positioned ones against PSG, an all too familiar sight for the Bernabeu crowd.

KEY MOMENTS

3rd min SHOT: Isco plays a ball over the top of the defence to find Ronaldo who made a good run. He fires a shot across goal but it fizzes wide.

28th min ONE-ON-ONE: Madrid break quickly on the counter and Marcelo whips a sublime ball around PSG’s back-line for Ronaldo on the far side whose attempted finish strikes Areola in the face.

37th min SHOT: Ronaldo wins the ball on the edge of the box, turns and blazes his effort over the target when he had time to compose himself.

45th min GOAL: Lo Celso concedes a penalty for a tug on Kroos. Areola guesses the right way but can’t get to Ronaldo’s powerful strike from the spot.

83rd minute GOAL: Ronaldo gives the hosts the lead. Asensio sends a low cross across the face of goal which is parried into the Portuguese’s path who knees it into the back of the net.

Cristiano Ronaldo score his second

Cristiano Ronaldo score his second

VERDICT

One of his better performances this season. He didn’t dominate proceedings, leave defenders for dead or score a spectacular goal but he was a constant threat to PSG. Every time Madrid went forward, Ronaldo was there making a clever run, dragging defenders out of position.

He wasn’t at his clinical best either but persevered and was rewarded with two goals which could make all the difference as Madrid now take a 3-1 lead to Paris. Ronaldo worked hard for his team, raising his output in the face of Neymar, and contributed towards what was a well earned win for Los Blancos.

RATING: 8/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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