Neymar runs the show in our PSG player ratings after fine win against Liverpool

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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.

PSG (4-3-3)

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.

SUBSTITUTES

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.

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Jordan Henderson left chasing shadows in Liverpool player ratings after limp PSG defeat

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Last season’s beaten finalists Liverpool have it all to do to make the Champions League’s knockouts after they went down to a deserved 2-1 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain.

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.

They must now beat Napoli, at home, by two goals or more when Group C winds up to advance.

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3)

Alisson – 7: Was wrongfooted by Bernat for the opener and left exposed for Neymar’s second, after pulling off a superb stop on Cavani’s – mishit – close-range shot. Showed strong reaction to keep out a second-half header from compatriot Marquinhos.

Joe Gomez – 5: Preferred over Trent Alexander-Arnold as Jurgen Klopp looked to stiffen up his defence. Looked every bit the makeshift right-back in ragged first half. Improved after break, but awful cross killed a promising break just before hour mark.

Dejan Lovren – 6: Lack of speed was apparent when he was caught in behind for Bernat’s breakthrough. Ex-Lyon defender then steadily improved.

Virgil van Dijk – 6: Almost came unstuck from kick-off as Cavani raced past him. Was blameless when he deflected ball to Bernat on the stretch.

Andrew Robertson – 8: One of the few men in Red who looked comfortable, throughout, at Parc des Princes. Outran Di Maria after a lively start from the Argentina winger. Also pushed Mbappe out wide on the break in the 84th minute. What a signing.

Georginio Wijnaldum – 5: Biggest impact was on Neymar’s face for an early booking. Deservedly hooked for Keita.

Jordan Henderson – 4: This was not a captain’s performance by Henderson. Was a big reason why, unlike at Anfield, Liverpool could not keep a lid on the roaming Neymar.

James Milner – 7: Was full of positivity, clearly leading the way for the Reds with three key passes. Also made the most tackles with four. Team-mates needed to follow the veteran’s example. Showed usual poise to send Buffon the wrong way for spot-kick.

Mohamed Salah – 5: An ineffective performance from the Egypt superstar. Greedily shot into a wall of PSG defenders in second half, when several of his team-mates were open. When your team only has one attempt on target, fingers have to be pointed at a player of Salah’s standing.

Roberto Firmino – 5: Return to the score sheet at Watford wasn’t to last for the struggling striker. Miscued a header after the break and was soon hooked.

Sadio Mane – 6: Usual mixed bag from the ex-Metz player. Wildly hacked down by Di Maria – although he was prematurely hitting the deck – for the injury-time penalty-kick.

SUBSTITUTES

Naby Keita – 6: Struggled to get involved. No surprise considering lack of recent club action.

Daniel Sturridge – 5: Didn’t provide cure for toothless Liverpool display.

Xherdan Shaqiri – N/A: Came on for the tiring Milner. Set-piece delivery was poor.

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Lyon test just what Man City needed in UCL, says Laporte

Andy Hampson 28/11/2018
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Aymeric Laporte believes Manchester City’s Champions League struggles against Lyon will stand them in good stead for the rest of the competition.

City claimed a place in the last 16 on Tuesday as they twice came from behind to scramble a 2-2 draw against the dominant French side at the Groupama Stadium.

It was City’s second tough encounter against Lyon having been beaten by the Ligue 1 outfit at the Etihad Stadium in September.

Defender Laporte, who scored City’s first equaliser, said: “What we learn from this is there are a lot of strong teams and if you want to fight for this European trophy you need to fight very hard.

“All the teams are very competitive and demanding in this competition. That is our main challenge, to try to beat them all.”

City got their campaign up and running by responding to the Lyon loss with victory at Hoffenheim and back-to-back successes over Shakhtar Donetsk. They will now look to go through as Group F winners by taking at least a point from their final fixture against Hoffenheim.

Their hopes of taking that top spot would have been all the more difficult had they not managed to find a way back into the game in France.

City were outplayed for large spells and could conceivably have been 3-0 down at half-time as Memphis Depay and Maxwel Cornet fluffed great chances and the latter also hit the woodwork.

The impressive Cornet, the Ivory Coast forward who also struck in Manchester, went on to score twice in the second half but each time City responded quickly, first through Laporte and then Sergio Aguero.

“That’s what we had to do, we had to come back twice,” said Laporte. “That’s why we are happy for the draw and the qualification, because that’s what really matters for us. The main goal from the beginning was qualifying for the round of 16.”

Laporte was City’s best performer on the night, continuing his impressive recent form. The Frenchman has become a mainstay of Pep Guardiola’s defence this season and he made several important defensive interventions before claiming his third goal of the season with a powerful header from a corner.

His partnership with England centre-back John Stones is also blossoming.

We have a great relationship,” said 24-year-old Laporte. “We are always together joking all the time and on the pitch it is working well for both of us. We need to take advantage of that.

“We are very happy for the qualification and are looking forward to the next games.”

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