Angel Di Maria scored one and assisted two, while Neymar also starred, as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 3-0 victory against RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. The French champions move on to Sunday’s final against Bayern Munich or Lyon, marking the first time they reached the competition’s championship game.
PSG left it late to claim victory against Atalanta in the previous round, but with Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe recalled to the starting line-up, Thomas Tuchel’s men began in positive fashion against Leipzig. Neymar hit the post after six minutes and had a goal ruled out for handball seconds later, but PSG did not have to wait long to open the scoring.
Neymar was fouled outside the left corner of the penalty area and Di Maria’s subsequent free kick found the head of Marquinhos, whose late equaliser against Atalanta sparked his side’s comeback win, and the midfielder beat goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
With PSG dominant, Leipzig struggled to create chances of their own in the opening half; Yussuf Poulsen’s shot into the side-netting after 25 minutes, following a driving run from Konrad Laimer was their best chance.
After Neymar hit the woodwork with a 35-yard free kick that almost caught out Gulacsi at his near post, PSG doubled their lead three minutes before half-time.
Sloppy defensive play saw Leipzig lose possession 30 yards from goal to Leandro Paredes, who swooped on the loose ball, crossed to Neymar and the Brazilian international’s clever flick found Di Maria for a close-range finish.
Any suggestion that Leipzig might get back into the game evaporated 11 minutes into the second half when another defensive lapse cost them. Under pressure from Ander Herrera, Nordi Mukiele slipped and presented possession to Di Maria, whose cross was headed in by Juan Bernat.
U.S. international Tyler Adams came on for Leipzig, emulating DaMarcus Beasley in 2005 as the second American to appear in a Champions League semifinal. Among PSG’s introduced substitutes was Marco Verratti, who missed the game against Atalanta through injury.
“We ate them up from minute one,” said man-of-the-match Di Maria. “It’s going to be tough to sleep between now and the final. We want to make history for the club. We succeeded tonight and we’re in the final; that’s very important. We have to continue like tonight to make our dream come true.”
If Di Maria was the brightest player on the pitch for PSG, it is the French champions’ defence that was the most praised by coach Tuchel post-match.
“I was never relaxed, but how we defended was also the most important thing for me. We had a good mix between determination, spirit and quality,” said Tuchel.
“Before the game I felt the pressure. I have players who are used to that kind of pressure.”
Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said his side had no chance against the superior Parisians.
“We have to accept the result because we weren’t able to approach the game as we wanted,” Nagelsmann said. “They were better than us. Even if we could have made a lot of things better, maybe it would still not have been enough.
“They were flexible. We started well in the first half. But then conceded the first goal and then the second from a mistake of ours.”