FC Barcelona welcomed French Champions, Paris St. Germain to their Nou Camp fortress for their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg encounter on Tuesday. PSG were missing key players Neymar and Angel Di Maria to injury, and Barcelona had to recall Gerard Pique to the squad for the first time since he damaged his knee ligaments in November. Barcelona had not lost a knockout tie at the Nou Camp since 2013 when they were humbled by Bayern Munich 7-0 on aggregate. This time however, they were comprehensively outplayed and thrashed 1-4 on their own turf thanks to a Kylian Mbappe masterclass.
Barcelona took the lead in the 27th minute when they were awarded a contentious penalty after Frenkie De Jong got tripped inadvertently by the PSG left-back, Layvin Kurzawa as he looked to latch onto a ball over the top. Lionel Messi blasted the resulting kick into the top corner. The lead did not last long as 5 minutes later, PSG were level. Marco Veratti produced a deft one-touch pass to find Mbappe in the box and he showed brilliant footwork to stand up Barcelona defender, Clement Lenglet and fire one into the roof of the net. From the beginning of the second half, it was all PSG. Their dominance finally resulted in a goal 20 minutes into the second half when a brilliant ball from Argentine midfielder, Leandro Paredes set right-back Alessandro Florenzi free to play a dangerous ball across the face of goal which Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique prevented from reaching the lurking Mauro Icardi, but his clearance landed at the feet of Mbappe who fired it into the back of the net. Five minutes later, Moise Kean got on the act. The on-loan Everton man found himself in space as Leandro Paredes swung in a corner and he planted a header firmly past Barcelona keeper, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to make it three. PSG weren’t done, and in the 85th minute, a quick counter saw Julian Draxler play a pass to Mbappe in the Barcelona box, and he finished with aplomb, firing a first-time curling effort into the top corner of the goal, completing his hattrick and becoming the first player to score a Champions League hattrick against Barcelona since Andriy Shevchenko in 1997.
Barcelona have it all to do when they travel to Paris for the second leg of the encounter having lost at their home ground. Mbappe now has 22 UEFA Champions League goals, and he’s still only 22 years old. PSG have more than a foot in the next round, and will be looking to just get the job done in the second leg at the Parc des Princes.