Champions League: PSG, Napoli wins to set up qualification drama
Brazilian Neymar returned from injury to guide Paris Saint-Germain to a crucial 2-1 Champions League victory over Liverpool at the Park Des Princes on Thursday.
The important win with just one game remaining has put the French champions in a great position to qualify for the knockouts leaving last season’s finalist, Liverpool, in a danger of being eliminated.
Juan Bernat opened the scoring just 13 minutes into the encounter, while Neymar doubled the tally 23 minutes later but James Milner pulled one back just moments before half-time to give the visitors some hope of bouncing back.
Edinson Cavani than had a great chance to kill the contest a minute after the break but the Uruguyan striker failed to control a long ball, which had he been successful, could have sent him through on goal.
It though mattered little as Liverpool failed to find the net for a second time handing the hosts a vital victory, meaning Liverpool will now need to beat Napoli in the final match of Group C.
PSG had started well fashioning chance after chance and could have scored nearly thrice inside the opening 10 minutes. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe linked well across channels and had their shots saved before a foul on the Brazilian earned Milner a booking.
Georginio Wijnaldum then went into the referee’s books for shoving Mbappe before Bernat, taking opportunity of a loose ball inside the Liverpool box fired home to out the home side ahead.
Liverpool were still to get over the opening goal, when Neymar put PSG 2-0 ahead in the 37th minute. Alisson dived to parry a low cross from Mbappe aimed for Cavani but Neymar was at hand to score from the rebound.
Napoli rout Red Star Belgrade
In the other match of Group C, Napoli rode on a first-half double from Dries Mertens to sweep past Red Star Belgrade and top the group with a match remaining.
A draw against Liverpool away to Anfield will hand them a place in the knockouts but a defeat may see them also get eliminated if PSG, now on 8 points, beat the Serbian champions.
Captain Marek Hamsik put the home side ahead in the 11th minute from a corner before Mertens doubled the lead flicking home a Fabian Ruiz cross in the 33rd minute. Hamsik then assisted Mertens for a third in the second half and although El Fardou Ben Nabouhane scored for the Serbians five minutes later, there was little difficulty in securing the win for Napoli.