Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi inspire PSG to Champions League rout
With the French club already through to the knockout stages, this was largely an opportunity for PSG to flex its muscles, and its stars certainly helped to do that.
Before supporters could even settle in their seats to watch the final group stage match, Mbappé had put the host ahead after just 70 seconds of the match, firing home after goalkeeper Simon Mignolet parried a shot.
The 22-year-old then doubled his tally with a wonderfully crafted volley in the seventh minute after Angel Di Maria had chipped a pass over the defense.
Mbappé is now the youngest player in Champions League history to reach 30 goals.
Stunned by the ferocious opening 10 minutes, the Belgian visitors began to grow back into the game but always looked vulnerable to PSG’s frightening counterattack and it wasn’t long before Messi got in on the act.
Mbappé this time turned into the architect, knocking the ball through a defender’s legs before switching the play to the oncoming Messi.
What followed seemed almost inevitable, with the Argentine cutting in on his left foot and curling his effort past the helpless Mignolet.
The pair combined to almost score PSG’s fourth of the first half but Mbappé couldn’t keep his shot under the crossbar after being set free by Messi’s lofted through ball.
PSG seemed to take its foot off the gas in the second half, giving Club Brugge a chance to get back into the game.
Mats Rits curled his effort in after 68 minutes but the goal served as inspiration for PSG to step it up again.
Mbappé and Messi began to work through the gears and the latter was awarded a penalty after being bundled over inside the box.
Despite Mbappe being on a hat-trick, it was Messi himself who stepped up to reestablish PSG’s three goal lead and score his second of the game.
The Champions League remains PSG’s biggest goal and, despite not hitting the heights in every game this season and with the injury to Neymar, this match served as a reminder of the attacking capabilities of this star-studded squad.
It will certainly face tougher challenges in the later rounds, but few teams will feel confident facing Messi and Mbappé in this form.
Atlético Madrid progresses
While many groups had already been decided going into the final round of group games, there was all to play for in Group B.
Liverpool had already qualified top but AC Milan, Atlético Madrid and Porto could all still go through as runner-up.
It was the Spanish side that secured the final qualification place after beating Porto 3-1, in a match that saw three players sent off.
Diego Simeone’s side, which was helped by Liverpool beating AC Milan 2-1, went ahead after Antoine Griezmann prodded home at the back post in the 56th minute before Ángel Correa and Rodrigo De Paul secured the victory with stoppage time goals.
There was still time for Sergio Oliveira to score a penalty for the host but it will serve as very little consolation for the Portuguese side, which lost both Wendell and goalkeeper Agustín Marchesín, who was not on the pitch, to red cards in the second half.
Atlético, which had gone into the game bottom of the group, had gone down to 10 men earlier in the second half after Yannick Carrasco was dismissed.