Champions League: Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé score twice as PSG beat Maccabi Haifa




CNN

Paris Saint-Germain’s attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar were in sensational form as the French side qualified for the Champions League knockout stages with a 7-2 win over Maccabi Haifa.

Messi and Mbappé scored twice, while Neymar and Carlos Soler scored on a Sean Goldberg own goal in each half.

In a blistering first-half display on Tuesday, Messi opened the scoring for PSG after exchanging passes with Mbappé and curling a shot beyond the reach of Maccabi goalkeeper Josh Cohen.

French international Mbappé scored PSG’s second from almost the same position in the box as Messi, only with his right foot.

Neymar got his name on the scoresheet when he finished off a light counter-attack by Messi and Mbappé, but Maccabi pulled one back a minute later through Abdoulaye Seck’s header.

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Approaching half-time, Messi made it 4-1 with a superb strike from the edge of the area, becoming the first player to score 80 Champions League group stage goals, seven more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Seck reduced the deficit once more with a header in the second half, but PSG soon lost.

Mbappé’s goal made it 5-2 just after the hour mark, taking him to six Champions League goals this season – one more than Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah on the scoring charts.

Goldberg’s own goal and Soler’s finish completed the home side’s deficit, denying Messi a hat-trick from under the crossbar.

according to chooseThe 35-year-old Messi became the oldest player to record two goals and two assists in a Champions League game – proof that he is hitting his stride ahead of Argentina’s World Cup campaign next month.

While Messi may be in the final years of his career, PSG handed midfielder Warren Zaïre-Emery his Champions League debut at 16 years and seven months, the club’s youngest ever player in the competition.

Mbappé is now the top scorer in this season's Champions League.

Victory means PSG qualify for the knockout stages alongside Benfica, but they may need a strong performance against Juventus next week to make it to the top.

“The team played fantastic football in a crucial match to qualify for the next stage,” said coach Christophe Galtier.

“I will repeat that qualification has been achieved, but we have to go out and get first place in Turin.

“The stakes will be very high for the four teams in this group, but the team played fantastic football, with a lot of rhythm, a lot of technical quality, a lot of play between the lines, a lot of attacking play. And for me, they really liked playing together.”