Angel Di Maria's Brace Leads PSG Past Real Madrid in UCL Group Stage

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2019

PSG's Angel Di Maria, center, scores his side's second goal during the Champions League group A soccer match between PSG and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Francois Mori/Associated Press

Angel Di Maria's brace helped Paris Saint-Germain open their 2019/20 UEFA Champions League account in style by beating Real Madrid 3-0 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night.

Thomas Meunier added a third on the break in stoppage time after a classy link-up with fellow full-back Juan Bernat.

Les Parisiens earned a famous win despite Neymar serving a suspension and Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani missing due to injuries. However, Di Maria turned on the style against the club with whom he won this trophy in 2014, ensuring PSG seized early control of Group A.

Playing without their star-studded front three didn't make PSG passive. Instead, the hosts were quick, intense and intelligent in the way they pressed, moved off the ball and used possession to create chances.

The first slick exchange of passes had Bernat, who had a terrific match at left-back, teeing up Angel Di Maria. His first-time prod toward goal appeared to catch Thibaut Courtois cold between the sticks.

While he's not as lauded as some of the bigger names in PSG's ranks, Di Maria has become an invaluable contributor, particularly in Europe's premier club competition.

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Di Maria's brilliance undid his former club again on 33 minutes. This time there was nothing Courtois could do about a lovely shot guided with pinpoint ruthlessness into the corner:

The game sprung into life beautifully thanks to Di Maria's class. Yet Bale thought he'd added a flourish of his own soon after, only for the video assistant referee to reveal the final touch before the finish had come off the Welshman's hand:

Despite the disappointment, the negated moment of magic ought to have offered the visitors encouragement they could cause more problems. Instead, Real proceeded to continue looking sheepish in the face of PSG's marauding midfield.

A rugged trio of Marquinhos, Marco Verratti and Idrissa Gueye bullied the opposition with strength and aggressiveness. Each man was decisive with his tackling and quick to pounce on any mistakes.

While all three thrived, former Aston Villa and Everton man Gueye stood out most:

Gueye was typically terrier-like after the break, helping the game follow a familiar pattern. Real tried to probe, only for PSG to overwhelm the away side with pace and purpose.

Di Maria wasted two excellent chances to cap his hat-trick, while Karim Benzema had the ball in the net, only for the linesman's flag to cost chalk off the finish. It summed up the stale and blunt nature of Los Blancos' play going forward:

Meunier's well-worked goal in injury time didn't feel unjust. In fact, it was merely the minimum of what PSG merited for their industry and what Real deserved for a soft, rudderless display.


What's Next?

PSG face a tricky trip to Lyon in Ligue 1 on Sunday, while Real are away to La Liga leaders Sevilla on the same day.