Messi, Mbappe, Neymar fire PSG to Champions League last 16 with 7-2 rout of Maccabi Haifa

On Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 7-2 victory against Haifa Maccabi at Princes des Parc in the last 16 of the Champions League. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe both scored twice, while Lionel Messi added another two goals to the scoreboard.

The hosts were 3-0 up within 35 minutes, with each attacking star finding the net. Then, just before the interval, Messi produced another sumptuous finish to complete a first-half display that was eye-catching.

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The defeat was finalized by replacement player Carlos Soler with a seventh goal, a self-inflicted goal from Maccabi’s Sean Goldberg, and Mbappe gracefully scoring his second goal in the latter half of the game without any decrease in intensity.

In the current season, Messi has already scored 11 goals and provided 12 assists for PSG in all competitions, which is the same number of goals he scored in his underwhelming initial season in Paris. Additionally, he also assisted Neymar and Soler in scoring goals.

In the previous season, PSG’s previous 19 Champions League goals were scored by a member of the “MNM,” going back to last season. Prior to Goldberg’s own goal on Tuesday, Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar all found the back of the net in the opposing match in Israel last month, which PSG emerged victorious with a 3-1 scoreline.

“The system is extremely crucial, and it should ideally represent our three outstanding players in the best way possible. I, Christophe Galtier, the coach of PSG, mentioned that I observed the players truly enjoying themselves in the 4-3-3 system.”

“It’s extremely enjoyable to coach them, to witness them engage in play each day. For a coach, it’s like being in heaven.”

Maccabi Haifa defender Abdoulaye Seck managed to score two goals with headers from set pieces, revealing a few moments of vulnerability in their defense on the opposite side.

With a game to spare, PSG clinched their place in the Champions League knockout stage, leaving the victory, though, never in doubt.

Galtier’s squad is level on 11 points with Benfica, who have also secured their spot, but now they hold a notable edge in goal difference.

In the final round of group fixtures next week, PSG will have to travel to Juventus, knowing that they only need a result against Benfica on the road to secure the top spot in the group and clinch their spot in Haifa Maccabi.

Despite a heavy defeat, Maccabi will still go into their last game of the Europa League with hopes of sealing a spot, and they will remain level on points with Juve, with three points.

PSG took some time to discover their offensive flow on Tuesday, but once they did, they were extremely destructive.

Messi got the ball rolling in the 19th minute with a silky opening goal, after being played in by Mbappe on the left side, using the outside of his left foot.

The opening goal by Mbappe was just classy, as the French forward bent a right-footer into the Maccabi goalkeeper’s net in the 32nd minute, and Cohen Josh, who couldn’t be faulted for any of PSG’s goals, did his best.

Neymar’s shot found the back of the net after hitting off the goalpost, and Mbappe and Messi collaborated to set up Neymar. However, just three minutes later, the situation started to deteriorate for Maccabi.

PSG defensively switched off to allow Omer Atzili from free kick to head in unmarked, then Neymar swapped passes with Messi but before shoulder dropping and belting a left-footed low shot into the corner, making it 4-1 at half-time.

PSG actually dominated the opening 10 minutes of the second half, as Donnarumma Gianluigi made a looping header to clear a corner and Seck cleared the ball into the net.

The visiting supporters celebrated happily, but PSG then shifted into high gear to dominate the game.

Goldberg scoring an own goal concluded with Neymar’s skilled ball control and precise pass as Maccabi ultimately lost morale. Prior to finding the distant corner, he skillfully tapped the ball and Mbappe was located by a diagonal delivery from Achraf Hakimi in the 64th minute.

Messi, who was denied a record-extending ninth hat-trick by the crossbar, set up Soler to score the opening goal.

Dylan Batubinsika, the defender for Maccabi, stated, “When playing against players of their caliber, even the slightest lapse in focus can result in them scoring or having a significant opportunity. Fortunately, we managed to catch Paris on a favorable day.”

“Today, we managed to secure two goals, which is fortunate, and there is still an opportunity for us to secure a third place in the group.”

Information from Reuters was utilized in this report.