Layvin Kurzawa scored three goals from left-back as PSG thrashed Anderlecht 5-0 to saunter in to the last 16 of the Champions League. Marco Verratti opened the scoring for the Ligue 1 leaders before Neymar added a second. Kurzawa then applied that gloss to a victory that secures PSG’s progression from Group B and leaves Anderlecht rooted to the bottom.
Bayern Munich edged to victory over Celtic in Glasgow in the other match in the group. PSG qualify for the next round with two games to spare as a result of Celtic failing to beat their German opponents.
Unai Emery flirted with the option of resting 18-year-old forward Kylian Mbappé in the days leading up to the match, with the teenage sensation having missed just 37 minutes of PSG’s previous 10 matches. Yet Emery opted for a strong starting line-up with Mbappé forming part of an intrepid attacking trident alongside Edinson Cavani and Neymar.
Mbappé and Neymar combined inside the first minute, with the latter forcing Anderlecht goalkeeper Frank Boeckx in to an early save.
The home side dictated the rhythm of the match from the outset, but it took them half an hour to make the breakthrough. The goal was worth waiting for. Neymar ignored Verratti’s overlapping run on the left and played the ball inside to Mbappé. He paid the Italian more attention, and rolled the ball out for him to jink back inside and curl a beautifully-shaped shot just inside the post. It feels odd to talk about a first-half goal as being ‘worth waiting for’, overdue. Yet such was the nature of PSG’s gaping superiority.
Anderlecht displayed none of the canny wing-play that caused PSG trouble when the two sides met in Brussels. Hein Vanhaezebrouck’s side were timid in Paris. They seemed overawed by the task of withstanding the constant threat of Cavani, Mbappé, and Neymar.
The Brazilian scored the second the brink of half time. He received the ball from a short corner and was afforded the space to waltz around the perimeter of the box, pick his spot, and curl the ball in to the corner. It was a fine finish, but one that he should not have been given the opportunity to create.
Layvin Kurzawa was the unlikely protagonist of the second half. The left-back’s only memorable involvement in the first half was falling down in a heap after an aerial clash with opposition captain Sofiane Hanni.
The first goal was a gift; a gift wrapped in crisp paper, strips of ribbon, and with a bow on top. Boeckx displayed outstanding reflexes to tip Neymar’s free-kick on to the post. But the Anderlecht ‘keeper looked up to see Kurzawa nodding the acquiescent rebound in to his unguarded net.
The 25-year-old doubled his personal tally 20 minutes later. Neymar lured the right-back, Dennis Appiah, towards the centre of the penalty area as Dani Alves crossed the ball. That created an expanse of space for Kurzawa to arrive at the far post and pick his spot with a diving header.
Six minutes later he was assured of possession of the match ball. A low drive in to the bottom corner sealed his third goal, and PSG’s fifth.
The Parisiens have made progressed with ostentatious ease from a group that had appeared challenging when the draw was made. With 17 goals scored and 0 conceded so far, PSG’s opponents in the next round will approach the tie with trepidation.