Paris St Germain manager Thomas Tuchel believes his team have come a long way compared to last year in the Champions League.
A brace from Angel Di Maria helped them stun Real Madrid 3-0 at Parc des Princes in Group A of this season’s tournament.
Thomas Meunier added a third in stoppage time, after linking up with fellow full-back Juan Bernet, and Tuchel hailed the effort of his side.
Last season, PSG topped a group containing Liverpool, but were knocked out in the round of 16 in dramatic fashion by Manchester United, who scored a late penalty awarded by VAR.
Tuchel told Viasport: “It was a great team performance and this for me is the biggest thing – we were the better team and we won deservedly.
“Everyone worked together, we never lost the structure and we attacked brave. We had good possession and all together it was a very complete team effort and team performance and this makes the coach most happy.”
The display from PSG was all the more impressive considering Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani were all unavailable.
“We are still working,” Tuchel said. “We have to say we have come a long way from last season when we played the first game in Liverpool and the second from last group game we were at home to Liverpool and you could see we could do it.
“After the defeat against Manchester United it was tough for everybody at the club and also for the players. Now we have some fresh blood and some players who give us real intensity and also personality.
“We feel we can handle big losses, there is no question we miss Kylian, Neymar and Eddie, but still we had a strong team who were ready to play at a high level. It’s a continuation of a process and we have to hang in there.”
Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was powerless to stopping Di Maria enjoy a night to remember against his old club.
He scored in the 14th minute with a fierce strike from eight yards, after Bernet’s pass before he controlled the excellent Idrissa Gueye’s square ball and curled home with 33 on the clock.
On Di Maria, Courtois added: “He has a lot of quality and both his first and second goals he had a great shot.
“The first goal he shot really strongly at the front post and I didn’t have time to put my arm against it and the second was a great shot just outside the 18.
“A guy with his talent, we have to maybe be a bit closer to the ball, but that is football. I think he had a good game, but I’d prefer to analyse our game rather than focus on others.”
Within two minutes of Di Maria’s second, Madrid thought they had reduced the deficit when Gareth Bale lobbed Keylor Navas.
But VAR ruled the Welshman had handled the ball in the lead-up to the strike and Zinedine Zidane’s team failed to manage a single shot on target in Paris.
“I think from the start PSG had more intensity than us and in games like this, in the Champions League, it’s hard,” Courtois said.
“We found it hard to defend and to attack them as well. I don’t think we created one shot on target. Two shots were cancelled after, so it’s a hard night, but we need to analyse and think about what we could have done better.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
Pep Guardiola hailed a professional performance – but stressed there was no time to enjoy it – after Manchester City opened their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus were all on target as City eased to victory over the Ukrainian champions in the Group C clash in Kharkiv.
It was a convincing start in a group they are expected to dominate but Guardiola’s thoughts were already turning to Saturday’s Premier League clash with Watford.
The City boss said: “I think already about Watford as we don’t have much time, but to start away in the Champions League with a good result (is positive) and I know we played really good.
“We created incredible chances and all the guys were fantastic. It’s a good result to start – better than last season.”
With Aymeric Laporte already sidelined, an injury to John Stones on the eve of the game left Nicolas Otamendi as City’s only fit specialist centre-back.
Midfielder Fernandinho filled in impressively against Shakhtar but Guardiola admits other options will also need to be explored.
Youngster Eric Garcia, who was on the bench in Ukraine, is an alternative but Guardiola may try switching some other senior players around first.
He said: “I didn’t have doubts he (Fernandinho) could do it and he’s going to do it (again).
“But Nico is 31, Fernandinho is 34, and next alternative is 18. For three or four months I don’t know what will happen.
“Both were incredible tonight but we need another solution – Rodri or Kyle (Walker) maybe – because they cannot play every game at their age. But Fernandinho can play in any position and that’s why he’s so important for us.”
Guardiola also picked out Gundogan and Mahrez for praise.
Asked if Gundogan did not get enough credit for his performances, Guardiola said: “The important thing is the credit he has from all of us, he is an exceptional player. It was outstanding from Ilkay today.”
He added of Mahrez, who set up Gundogan’s goal as well as scoring himself: “It’s a pleasure to watch him play football.”
Shakhtar occasionally threatened City on the break but coach Luis Castro admitted they paid the price for failing to take their chances.
He said: “We knew how difficult this game would be. Our plan was not letting City develop their attacks through the centre and we also wanted to organise fast counters and take our chances.
“At 1-0 Junior Moraes had a chance for an equaliser but we missed it and in a few minutes City scored the second goal. When you are 2-0 down you feel a mountain on your shoulders, so it was very hard in the second half. The game was finished by the third goal.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
Atletico Madrid and Juventus played out a thriller at the Wanda Metropolitano with the spoils being shared after a 2-2 draw.
The visitors went 2-0 up thanks to goals from Juan Cuadrado and Blaise Matuidi in the second half. But Stefan Savic pulled one back with a header before Hector Herrera equalised in the death to give his team a point from a crucial encounter.
Atletico were the dominant side in the first half, but had most of their attacking moves thwarted by a sturdy Juventus defence that stood tall.
Matthijs de Ligt played a crucial role in nodding away a plethora of deliveries from either wing and keeping Juventus in the contest until the break.
We’ve inspected the Dutchman’s performance:
Passes (accuracy): 42 (93%)
Dribbled past: 0
De Ligt could not keep a clean-sheet, but this performance will be seen as a good improvement from him after a poor start to his Juventus career.
The Dutchman put on a shift that the injured Giorgio Chiellini would approve of as he partnered Leonardo Bonucci to keep the fiery Atletico attack at bay for most parts of the game. He exuded confidence and rarely put a toe out of line in the first half.
But the later part of the second half saw a nervous De Ligt take the pitch as Atletico inched closer to the come-back. He could not react well to the opposition’s desperation for a goal and his good work from the first half was almost undone.
GOT RIGHT – CLEARANCES
De Ligt (nine) produced at least three more clearances than any other player. That he was not among players with most tackles is understandable, given the capital side prefers crossing the ball into the box over building up from the centre.
The hosts hence had to resort to set-pieces and crosses as their greatest weapons in this tie. Nine clearances in such a game will count for a solid show at the back.
GOT WRONG – DECISION-MAKING
This is something that comes with experience and criticism of the 20-year-old star should be taken with a pinch of salt. But De Ligt could have done better with his decision-making both defensively and offensively.
The Dutchman can’t be blamed for Atletico’s goal but it appeared that he was confused as to which player he must mark. His lack of lucidity in sticking to a man provided Savic with a head-start over Rodrigo Bentancur and the Montenegro defender headed it home.
De Ligt has not enjoyed a rosy start to his time at Turin. The former Ajax defender endured a sub-par pre-season and his inclusion in Juventus’s starting line-up was conditional to Chiellini’s injury.
The expectations were high and the 20-year-old was finding it hard to adapt at his new club.
The Dutchman also delivered a shambolic performance against Napoli in a game that the Turin side was lucky to win 4-3. A test against Atletico at one of the best stadiums in the world demanded a drastic improvement.
De Ligt could not keep a clean-sheet but he will look at this performance in a positive light and work on getting better ahead of the bigger games to come. For now, he must take credit for keeping the hosts at bay in the first half, despite being called into more often than he would have expected.