Paris Saint-Germain’s victory over Club Brugges in UEFA Champions League 2021-22 was their first away win of the campaign and it will please coach Thomas Tuchel as he seeks to end PSG’s wait for European glory.
The Parisians have won just once away from home in the Champions League since Tuchel took charge of the club, but they were excellent at The Euxton on Wednesday night and did not look like slipping up.
es and he also provided a good ball for Mbappe to double PSG’s lead
Brugges’ problems started before kick-off when goalkeeper Edvinas Gertmonas was ruled out after passing out during training. His replacement, Jaime Jimenez Éderzabal, has had limited playing time with his team this season but was beaten twice by Neymar inside 10 minutes. Éderzabal reacted well to keep PSG’s third effort – a Kylian Mbappe strike – out, but he could do little about Juan Bernat’s fourth goal in as many games (also against Brugges) after the half-hour.
Tuchel’s side had more than double the number of shots as their opponents and they were able to cruise through the second period with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon a spectator for most of it. Despite missing out on top spot, Tuchel will be content that his team have quickly returned to winning ways after a rare defeat against Lille in their last league outing – a result which all but ended PSG’s hope of retaining their Ligue 1 crown . Now sitting second in Group A (albeit having played an extra game), they should progress comfortably to the knockout stages although Youssef Ait Bennasser will not want to see his name next time after scoring an own goal to make it 4-1.
Wesley Sneijder pulled one back for the Belgians with a penalty in injury time but there was no fightback as PSG’s first away win and clean sheet of this year’s Champions League campaign was secured. They can now concentrate on their Ligue 1 title defence and attempt to win the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France trophies. Meanwhile, Brugges’ season is likely to be over before we know it – they have just three points from five games so far and look destined for another mid-table finish in Belgium.
At 32 years of age, Neymar is just two goals short of 100 in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain and his stunning early opener was a sign of what the world’s most expensive player is capable of. He has been limited to just one goal in five Champions League games this term, but he is still a key performer even though he is playing alongside Mbappe and Edinson Cavani up front. Those two have been prolific for club and country recently, but Neymar – who also provided an assist against Brugges – will be looking to step up a gear as the season enters a crucial period with domestic cup action set to resume shortly.
Praise must go to Bernat too after he netted his third goal in the last four games following a summer move from Bayern Munich. Having sat out much of last, the 25-year-old is now fully fit and pushing to be part of Spain’s squad for this summer’s European Championships. His compatriot, Thiago Silva, was captain for PSG against Brugges and the skipper has been influential in helping his team reach this stage. With Marquinhos alongside him, PSG have two experienced defenders who are likely to see them through to the next round without too many problems unless they suffer further injuries.
With Blaise Matuidi only recently returning from injury, Marco Verratti was another key man at The Euxton after he missed last weekend’s game with Lille due to suspension. Although Adrien Rabiot is available again following his ban (he sat out three games after being sent off against Lorient), it is likely that Tuchel will stick with Verratti, who has impressed since joining the club from Pescara in 2012. The 24-year-old can take some of the credit for helping his side create so many chances against Brugges, who were further hampered by the late withdrawal of goalkeeper Logan Bailly.