Paris St Germain reach Champions League last 16 with Red Star Belgrade win

Paris St Germain advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League as Group C winners after beating Red Star Belgrade 4-1 at the Stadion Rajko Mitic.

Edinson Cavani put the visitors 1-0 up in the 10th minute and they extended their lead via a fine 40th-minute goal from the fit-again Neymar, with both efforts being set up by Kylian Mbappe.

Red Star pulled one back through Marko Gobeljic’s superb volley 11 minutes after the break, before Marquinhos netted a 74th-minute header and Mbappe added a fourth in stoppage time, having collected Neymar’s through-ball.

While PSG, ending up with 11 points from their six group games, moved up from second to first in the pool, they were joined in qualifying for the knockout stages by Liverpool, who beat Napoli 1-0 at home. Red Star finished bottom.

Thomas Tuchel’s men grabbed the early lead when a break saw Mbappe race down the left, get past Filip Stojkovic and lay the ball across for Cavani to fire in from close range.

El Fardou Ben Nabouhane sent a shot over PSG’s bar three minutes later, but it was not long before the visitors were on the front foot again.

They had penalty appeals turned down by Scottish referee Willie Collum in the 23rd minute when an Angel Di Maria cross struck Milos Degenek’s arm, and Marco Verratti then saw his effort dealt with by goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Things got a little tetchy, with Red Star’s Milan Pavkov and PSG’s Thilo Kehrer each getting booked, before Neymar – back in the team after missing the 1-1 Ligue 1 draw at Strasbourg with a groin issue – had a shot parried by Borjan and Di Maria curled an effort narrowly wide.

The advantage was then doubled as Mbappe played a sweet pass out wide to Neymar and the Brazilian cut inside, skipped past a couple of Red Star players and calmly struck past the home goalkeeper.

Mbappe looked certain to score soon after, only to send his shot into the side-netting.

Having rarely threatened in the first half, Red Star then exerted considerable pressure at the start of the second period.

And after an unsuccessful effort by Marko Marin, the deficit was reduced when Thiago Silva’s attempted clearance fell to Gobeljic, who met it with a delightful side-foot volley that beat Gianluigi Buffon at the near post.

PSG’s response saw Borjan make saves to deny Kehrer and Mbappe, and Cavani then headed over before Dusan Jovancic failed to get his header on target at the other end.

However, Marquinhos showed more accuracy as he nodded in from Di Maria’s free-kick to restore the French side’s two-goal cushion.

Neymar subsequently hit a shot over from just outside the box in the 80th minute, then produced a wonderful pass to tee up Mbappe’s slotted finish in added time.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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