Juan Bernat opened the scoring in the 13th minute as the hosts began brightly while the influential Neymar added a second in the 37th minute.
Angel Di Maria’s lunging challenge brought down Sadio Mane inside the area as the away side pulled one back when James Milner converted the resulting penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Here’s a look at how Thomas Tuchel fared in the tactical battle with Jurgen Klopp.
Goals – 2
Shots – 11
Possession – 44%
Tackles – 17
Dribbles – 7
With the prospect of elimination lurking, Tuchel had it all to do in this fixture. Given PSG’s ambitions in the competition, the pressure was on and the first good thing the manager did was get his players riled up for the challenge.
Even on the touchline, Tuchel yelled and gesticulated like a madman to the extent that perhaps even the eccentric Klopp was taken aback.
It wasn’t all about ranting, raving and winding up the crowd to produce a hair-raining atmosphere though. Tuchel clearly planned for this contest meticulously and his tactics had an air of sophistication.
The flexibility of the team, utilising various shapes in different phases of play over the course of the game was remarkable. Early on, they seemed to immediately dominate the ball by means of a 3-4-1-2 formation with Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat pushing up while Marquinhos dropped in to support Thiago Silva and Presnel Kimpembe.
That changed as soon as they broke the deadlock though and for the majority of the match, they operated in a 4-4-2 without the ball and a 4-2-3-1 in possession. Neymar was the key, linking up play superbly while Kylian Mbappe was his favourite outlet.
TACTICAL TALKING POINT
Barcelona wasn’t big enough for two talismanic figures and so Neymar was always destined to leave Camp Nou from under Lionel Messi’s shadow. Now at PSG, the Brazilian has shown his ability to lead the team in their quest for European glory and Wednesday night was another example of that.
The fact that he doesn’t seem consumed in competition with a young trailblazer like Mbappe and instead plays the more influential role, feeding the blossoming talent of his team-mate shows great maturity.
Tuchel realises that and his utilisation of the 26-year-old was excellent. Without possession, the Brazilian was entrusted with left midfield role while Mbappe had the freedom of staying upfront with Edinson Cavani. Neymar was even seen tracking back to support Juan Bernat on occasion.
Meanwhile, he was the conductor in attack, breaking quickly in the transition and assuming a central role linking midfield with attack. Only Marquinhos had more touches than Neymar who was easily the most influential figure on the pitch.
Tuchel brought his A-game for this one and had it not been for Di Maria’s desperate tackle, his side may even be celebrating a more comfortable win. His tactics were inspired and there didn’t seem to be any shortage of motivation. Even his substitutions seemed to be the right ones although he was let down by his players’ inability to kill off the game.
The France winger has taken longer than expected to settle in the Spanish capital. He’s looked good on occasion, but one goal and two assists in 17 appearances means he hasn’t quite dazzled the Atleti faithful.
Here’s a look at how Lemar got on in their 2-0 win.
Goals – 0
Assists – 0
Shots – 1
Shots on target – 0
Dribbles – 2
Key Passes – 0
Starting on the left of a 4-4-2, Lemar showed flashes of his best during his hour on the pitch. He was involved in Atletico’s opener without touching the ball, creating space with his run that allowed Koke the space to shoot from range.
Lemar came close to scoring himself, hitting the outside of the post with a well-struck free-kick. His work rate also remained excellent throughout, with one instance of tracking back earning particular praise from head coach Diego Simeone.
Lemar’s involvement in the Atletico opener may go unnoticed, but it was crucial. His run across the defence from the right wing pulled two defenders with him, leaving Koke free to shoot and score, via a deflection. That sort of movement makes a player like Lemar lethal.
The zero key passes in Lemar’s stat column on Wednesday is misleading. His passing was incisive, as he linked up well with Antoine Griezmann and Angel Correa, setting both up in dangerous positions.
Lemar wins the ball back with a really good tackle when it looked like he was beaten. Simeone roars him on down the line!— Robbie Dunne (@robbiejdunne) November 28, 2018
A familiar failing with Lemar cropped up again on Wednesday. Lemar has a tendency to drift out of games, and that was the case again as for all his good work on the ball – and off it – there were times, especially as Monaco improved after half-time, where Lemar was nowhere to be seen.
He had fewer touches than all bar two of the outfield players who started for Atletico, and one of those was Koke, who went off at half-time.
Lemar has started to look a little more consistent in Atletico colours and this was another encouraging display from the French winger. Though he wasn’t at his dazzling best, the level that he often hit for Monaco, Lemar was a thorn in the side of his former team whenever he was on the ball.
Simeone will have noted his contribution to the first goal, as well as Lemar’s overall work rate. Hopefully, the 23-year-old continues to build on this performance.
RATING – 7/10
Paris Saint-Germain are well poised to make the Champions League’s knockouts after a merited 2-1 win against Liverpool.
Spanish left-back Juan Bernat’s low shot and superstar Neymar’s tap-in – to become Brazil’s all-time top-scorer in the competition – made it 2-0 to the hosts by 37 minutes. The Reds were then given a lifeline in first-half injury time as Argentina winger Angel Di Maria’s wild challenge allowed veteran midfielder James Milner to score from the penalty spot.
Although better after the break, Liverpool struggled to craft promising chances in a match they couldn’t really afford to lose.
PSG must now beat eliminated Red Star Belgrade, away, to be assured of progression when Group C winds up.
Gianluigi Buffon – 6: Picking the ball out of his net after Milner’s penalty was as strenuous as it got for the iconic 40-year-old. Faced just one attempt on target.
Thilo Kehrer – 7: A lively presence in both halves. Battle with Scotland skipper Andrew Robertson was one to savour.
Thiago Silva – 8: What a leader. Snubbed out even the slightest threat of danger, showing far more drive than his Liverpool opponents.
Presnel Kimpembe – 6: Often provides an ungainly figure. A stupid foul on Mohamed Salah put PSG in needless late danger.
Juan Bernat – 7: Has now struck in successive Champions League matches, after his goal at Napoli. Did well to control the ball at pace and bamboozle Alisson with a low shot into the near post.
Neymar – 8: The first half belonged to PSG – and that was thanks to Neymar. Found pockets of space with abandon when floating in from the left. Pace on the break and ability to predict rebound for second was outstanding. Less of an attacking presence in demure second half.
Marco Verratti – 7: Ball of energy, who then showed remarkable poise to break through the lines and find Neymar. However, was exceedingly fortunate not to be dismissed for an unsightly lunge on Joe Gomez.
Marquinhos – 7: You’d think he’d been playing defensive midfield all his life. The embodiment of head coach Thomas Tuchel’s detailed work on the training pitch.
Angel Di Maria – 5: Started like a house on fire. But then kept picking up injuries and what went through his head for the penalty?
Edinson Cavani – 5: Only produced one attempt on target – and even that was comically miscued. Still regularly fails to convince against elite opposition.
Kylian Mbappe – 7: The teenager went missing at Anfield, but was highly visible for PSG in a dominant first half. His centre to Cavani eventually led to Neymar’s crucial second.
31 - Neymar is now the top-scoring Brazilian player in Champions League history, overtaking Kaká who scored 30 goals in the competition. Wonder. pic.twitter.com/PGRo4o5Adm— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 28, 2018
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – 5: Stretched legs to provide running power on the counter. Lack of ability was shown by how easily he was herded by Van Dijk when in a promising position.
Dani Alves – 6: Utilised as an inverted right winger as PSG expertly closed out the final stages.
Adrien Rabiot – N/A: Little to report about the contract rebel’s late appearance.