PSG seal knockout stage, Man U at the brink

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Neymar and Cavani celebrate PSG win over Bordeaux
File: Neymar and Cavani celebrate a PSG win

Paris Saint-Germain(PSG) destroyed Anderlecht 5-0 on Tuesday to seal their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with two group games to spare.

Bayern in the same group have also qualified for the next stage, after beating Celtic 2-1.

Marco Verratti and Neymar had scored brilliant first-half goals for the hosts at the Parc des Princes to leave the Belgian side demoralised and with too much to do to turn the game around.

However, left-back Layvin Kurzawa was the unexpected hat-trick hero.

Marco Verratti and Neymar had scored brilliant first-half goals for the hosts at the Parc des Princes to leave the Belgian side demoralised and with too much to do to turn the game around.

Kurzawa then scored his three goals in the second half and the result, combined with Bayern Munich’s 2-1 win away to Celtic, allowed the French giants to secure their place in the knockout phase for a sixth consecutive season, the essential assured before the start of November.

Unai Emery’s expensively assembled squad have won all four games in Champions League Group B, scoring 17 goals and conceding none, and can now focus on securing top spot with a home game against Celtic and a trip to Bayern — who are three points behind — still to come.

Anderlecht, in contrast, are yet to register a point or even score a goal in the competition after this latest defeat which followed a 4-0 reverse at home to PSG a fortnight ago.

They could still pip Celtic to the consolation of third and a Europa League spot in the New Year, but their approach to this game was telling, with coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck suggesting that an upcoming domestic league meeting with Club Brugge was his priority.

Manchester United were also close to the brink of the Champions League knockout phase after more inadvertent generosity from Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar helped them to a 2-0 victory on Tuesday.

Having carried a Marcus Rashford free-kick into his own net to gift United victory in the reverse fixture, 18-year-old Svilar scored an unwitting own goal when Nemanja Matic’s shot hit the post and went in off his back.

Daley Blind’s 78th-minute penalty completed victory, but with CSKA Moscow beating Basel in the other Group A game, United were left needing one point from their final two games to be certain of a last 16 berth.

Rui Vitoria’s Benfica remain bottom of the group with no points after their fifth successive European defeat — the worst run in the club’s history — and can no longer qualify for the knockout rounds.

Belgian youth international Svilar for one will be glad to see the back of United, particularly after he appeared to have atoned for his blunder in Lisbon two weeks ago by saving an early penalty from Anthony Martial.

With four wins from four games, United are six points clear at the top of the group and only a minor miracle will prevent them from reaching the knockout rounds for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Jose Mourinho’s side visit Basel on November 22 before closing their campaign at home to CSKA next month.

Rewarded with a starting berth for his match-winning cameo in United’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, Martial won but then squandered a 15th-minute penalty.

In attempting to curb the Frenchman’s driving run into the box from the United left, Douglas lost his footing and handled the ball.

Martial took the penalty himself, steering it towards the bottom-left corner, but Svilar got down to turn the ball around the post.


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