Brazil superstar Neymar hit a hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain earned an emphatic 6-1 win against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.
The forward produced superb free-kicks in either half, plus a close-range strike from France forward Kylian Mbappe’s pass.
These goals in a one-sided Group C clash saw him go level with the iconic Kaka as the competition’s highest-scoring Brazilian, with 30 strikes.
Here, we analyse the performance of the world’s most expensive player.
Goals – 3
Assists – 0
Shots – 9
Shots on target – 7
Touches – 108
Passes – 63
Key passes – 5
Dribbles – 7
Dispossessed – 3
After a wasteful display in defeat during the opener at Liverpool last time out, Neymar was determined to make amends.
Red Star represent cannon fodder in this section – and they were quickly blown apart by the 26-year-old.
Neymar produced two goals in two minutes upon the 20-minute mark. He first delicately curled in a dead ball from just outside the penalty box, before rattling into the roof of the goal via a give-and-go with Mbappe.
Into the second half, an endemic selfish streak emerged. Team-mates in better positions were repeatedly spurned as he went in search of the match ball.
His first trio in the competition was duly earned on 81 minutes with another unstoppable set-piece from 25 yards.
SET-PIECE SUPERSTAR – Neymar comes to life when a free-kick comes his way. His effort for Barcelona against PSG in 2016/17 will never be forgotten and this outstanding collection was added to against the Serbians.
You had to feel sorry for Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who had no chance with both. This pair ensured Neymar became the first player since Cristiano Ronaldo in September 2009 to notch two direct free-kicks in a Champions League game.
TUNNEL VISION – A resigned look crept across Uruguay centre forward Edinson Cavani’s face. So often present in an advantageous position, Mbappe and – in particular – Neymar went for goal themselves.
This duo teamed up once to devastating effect in the first half. They must think of the team’s goals rather than their own when Napoli come to town on October 24.
Neymar did not pass once to Cavani during his time on the pitch, and only nine passes were made to Mbappe. This has to change.
9th min CREATES CHANCE: Neymar’s cross produces a poor clearance from Borjan, but Mbappe can only place the ball wide.
20th min GOAL: An absolute beaut of a free-kick dips and curls past the despairing dive of Borjan.
22nd min GOAL: Gets on a wavelength with Mbappe and ruthlessly shoots high into the net from eight yards.
52nd min CHANCE: Mbappe goes on a mazy run, from which Neymar forces the busy Borjan into another save.
68th min FOULED: Neymar is hauled down by the cynical Filip Stojkovic and the right-back is booked. Acres of space beckoned.
81st min GOAL: The best is saved for last. Borjan is motionless and is left to applaud after another free-kick flies in from Neymar.
82nd min SUBSTITUTED: The man of the match comes off to booming applause at Parc des Princes and Germany midfielder Julian Draxler is thrown on.
Neymar’s talent is magical, but its application can be maddening.
Goals of supreme quality were conjured by the world’s third-most-gifted player. What continues to separate him, in particular, from former Barca team-mate Lionel Messi is an incurable selfish streak.
Liverpool rattled him last month and the knockout stages will prove similarly troublesome, unless he adheres to collective aims. There is strength in numbers, after all.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com
Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel was satisfied with a job well done after his side created a little bit of club history with their 3-0 victory at Nice.
Saturday’s result made it made eight wins from as many Ligue 1 matches this season. It is the first time PSG have won their first eight Ligue 1 games of the season. Monaco – in 1960/61 – were the last team to achieve the feat.
PSG were already firmly in control thanks to goals from Neymar and Christopher Nkunku before Wylan Cyprien’s 59th minute red card made things even easier for the champions.
Neymar struck again in injury time to extend the leaders’ advantage at the top of the table to nine points.
“We really played well this evening. We’ve won again and it’s a deserved win,” Tuchel told the club’s official website.
“The first 20 minutes were very intense, and rather difficult, but after that we managed to control the game.
“I decided to rotate the squad because it is necessary, because I can’t take too many risks with a squad that’s already limited.
“We’re very happy this evening.”
💬🆚 OGC Nice@neymarjr: “It was a very important win tonight. We continue our winning streak.”
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) September 29, 2018
Neymar was excellent throughout at the Allianz Riviera, opening the scoring with a lovely curling strike from 25 yards out.
The Brazilian now has seven league goals for the season and he told the club’s official website: “My performance? I’m very happy, I feel like I’m in form, and I’m very happy to have been able to score today.
“It’s an important win for us, and we won by playing good football. The whole team was involved and we’re taking three points back with us to Paris.”