Kylian Mbappe's Hat Trick Leads PSG Past Lionel Messi, Barcelona in UCL Thriller

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2021

PSG's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Champions League round of 16, first leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Joan Monfort/Associated Press

Kylian Mbappe has Paris Saint-Germain one step closer to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals after a 4-1 win over Barcelona.

Mbappe tallied a hat trick at the Camp Nou on Tuesday to help PSG win the first leg of the round-of-16 tie.

The Ligue 1 club was short-handed with Neymar ruled out because of a hip injury, but the attack thrived even without the Brazilian. The team will now try to hold the lead through the second leg set for March 10 at the Parc des Princes.

Lionel Messi scored the opening goal of the match, but Barcelona couldn't keep up in the second half, putting them in danger of their earliest elimination in this event since 2007.

Even with proven stars all over the pitch, Mbappe stood out in this match with the ability to do nearly anything he wanted with the ball.

He scored three goals, including the equalizer in the first half and the go-ahead goal in the second to play a key role in PSG's victory.

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It was impossible not to be impressed by the 22-year-old no matter where he was on the field:

Moise Kean added to the lead with a goal off a free kick in the 70th minute, giving Paris Saint-Germain a significant advantage through the first match.

Barcelona appeared to be in decent shape in the early going as Messi netted a goal from the spot in the 27th minute.

The score came after Frenkie de Jong drew a penalty from a foul in the box, although the call was heavily debated:

It was confirmed by VAR that Layvin Kurzawa made contact with De Jong, putting Messi in position to give his club a 1-0 lead.

The match went into halftime tied 1-1, but there was no shortage of drama as the clubs combined for 15 shots in the opening 45 minutes, with seven on goal.

There were chances for both sides in the second half as well, although it was PSG that took advantage. Barca was sloppy in the final third and failed to get anything going in open play.

Adding the inability to slow down Mbappe and it was a one-sided result.

Both of these clubs have the talent to compete for the Champions League title this season, but the tough draw meant only one will make it out of the round of 16. Paris Saint-Germain are in great shape halfway through and will try to seal the win in the next leg.