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David Luiz And PSG Spoil Xavi’s Record-Breaking Night For Barcelona

in Sports/Top News

PARIS Saint-Germain made light of the absent Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a sub-standard start to the season to claim a 3-2 Champions League victory at home to Barcelona.

Barça had not conceded a goal this season but David Luiz, Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi all punctured their defence to give the French champions three points.

David Luiz put the home side ahead in the 10th minute only for Lionel Messi to equalise two minutes later at the end of a sharp move. Verratti’s 26th-minute header put PSG in front again before Matuidi caught the visitors’ defence snoozing early in the second half. Neymar pulled one back with a fine goal almost immediately but PSG held firm.

PSG lead Group F with four points, with Barcelona second on three and Ajax Amsterdam third with two points after drawing 1-1 with Apoel Nicosia.

With Jay-Z, Beyonce and David Beckham watching from the stands at the Parc des Princes, PSG looked transformed from the side that had drawn six of their opening nine games of the season. They tore into a Barça side that had kept clean sheets in their first seven games in all competitions, making the Catalans look fragile at the back.

Ibrahimovic was ruled out of the tie with a heel injury but PSG made up for his absence with Javier Pastore’s brilliance and Verratti’s grit.

PSG were rewarded for their early aggression when David Luiz scored with a low shot on the turn from a Lucas free-kick. Barça quickly recovered from the shock of conceding their first goal of the season with Messi sweeping the ball past Salvatore Sirigu after a fine one-two with Andrés Iniesta, who was making his 100th Champions League appearance.

Edinson Cavani came close to making it 2-1 for PSG but his rising shot from outside the box sailed just high. In an entertaining first half the visitors also had a clear chance when Messi’s snap-shot from inside the area was parried away by Sirigu in spectacular fashion. Neymar was inches away from converting Messi’s brilliant chip with a first-time lob but it went just wide.

It was Luis Enrique’s side, however, who cracked again when an unmarked Verratti headed home from Thiago Motta’s corner. Matuidi made it 3-1 nine minutes into the second half, beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen from close range after escaping Daniel Alves at the far post.

On a high-octane night Neymar scored with a delightful shot in off the far post two minutes later but the expected Bar̤a onslaught never really materialised. Not even the 69th-minute introduction of Xavi, on for Ivan Rakitic, for a record 143rd appearance in the Champions League could earn Barcelona an equaliser. Xavi surpassed the previous record he held with the former Real Madrid and Schalke striker Ra̼l. РThe Guardian

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