PSG put on a show with a 7-2 victory over Maccabi Haifa

Lionel Messi of PSG celebrates his second goal with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar Jr during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Maccabi Haifa FC. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Lionel Messi of PSG celebrates his second goal with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar Jr during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Maccabi Haifa FC. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images) /
Sergio Ramos, Neymar Jr, Lionel Messi of PSG during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Maccabi Haifa FC. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Sergio Ramos, Neymar Jr and Lionel Messi share a moment during the UEFA Champions League match between PSG and Maccabi Haifa. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images) /

They say where there is smoke, there is fire. That was the ominous sign coming from the stands at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday after some PSG fans lit some flares, causing a stoppage in play because of the smoke coming out of them.

That was, also, how you could describe the game from Maccabi Haifa’s point of view considering what they had to go through in the French capital of Paris.

PSG demolished the Israeli club by a Champions League-best 7-2 score that has not been replicated by any team in this edition of the tournament. The likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City put five goals past some of their rivals, but no team has scored six – let alone Paris’ seven – with just one more group stage match day to go.

This victory over Maccabi means more than just guaranteeing Paris a place in the Round of 16: it also means that entering the last weekend of October only PSG and Napoli remain unbeaten in all competitions at this point into the 2022/23 season. Real Madrid fell to RB Leipzig, Atalanta lost a Serie A game earlier this month, and Benfica did so in Portugal’s domestic league.

With Juventus out of contention and fighting for a place in the Europa League knockout stages, Paris should earn three more points next week to wrap up the group stage of the Champions League and qualify in the first position above Benfica (now tied for first with 11 points each, but sitting second because of the goal difference).

PSG never took foot off the accelerator, ran Maccabi out of town

It was a magical Tuesday night in Paris thanks to the trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe all hitting the net two, one, and two times each. Those efforts, of course, only accounted for five of the seven goals scored by PSG with the other two coming from off-the-pine Carlos Soler and a Sean Goldberg own-goal-gaffe forced by Neymar’s physical pressure on the defender.

That is easier said than done. The first strike from Messi came after a bunch of rebounds and shaky passes ended in his left foot, but from the moment he decided where he wanted the ball to end to the moment it touched the net, the hit and the trajectory of the ball were sublimely crafted.

Barely 10 minutes later, another deflected ball by a defender found Mbappe inside the box and the French winger (yes, winger) had no trouble getting it past Maccabi’s keeper with a curling shot putting Paris up 2-0 with just 31 minutes gone.

Neymar joined the party three minutes later and everybody was happy. Finally.

Even though Donnarumma struggled on spot-kicks from the Israel team, you can’t blame him that much. The defense is clearly struggling on those plays – as has been the case for the full campaign, and Paris would definitely do great if they improve their performance on those plays for when the sparks lose their shine.

A returning Sergio Ramos was solid on defense, although oft-freed from not having to do a lot given his opponent’s meager threats. Presnel Kimpembe also came back from injury after six months out but didn’t have a chance to showcase his talents.

Verratti missed this one with a one-game ban but Sanches seemed to finally find the levels that were expected – and now, demanded – from him in the middle of the pitch. The same goes for Fabian Ruiz, the goal-scoring Soler, and the two kids to enter the game late – including Warren Zaïre-Emery, the club’s youngest player to feature in the competition at the age of 16 years and seven months and the sixth-youngest in the history of the UCL as a whole.

This game never had too much history to it. The score kept going up and up until the final blow 84th minutes into it with Soler having replaced Renato Sanches and adding his name late to the scoreboard. It followed two more goals from PSG, one banged by the most classic of Messi’s shots right before the break, and the other one by a smiling, firing, guns-blazing Mbappe in the 64th.

Already qualified for Round of 16, PSG’s real season yet to kick off

It is in 90-minute-long moments like yesterday’s when one wonders how is it possible that Paris still don’t have a Champions League to call their own.

That odd 2020 final in the middle of a pandemic year might have gone either way. Sadly for the Parisian, that is not what history books will tell future generations.

What they will tell, until PSG fix it, is the tale of a club mired in perennial upset and underperformance considering the Qatari investment and the subsequent expectations.

It will tell the tale of a club that broke (at least for now) all existing sports-related contract records by handing a 23-year-old forward north of €600m in the hot 2022 summer.

It will tell the tale of a city which had such bright lights – and humility, of course – to lure, attract, and host an orphaned Argentine after he was ousted from his family home.

It will tell the tale of a team that spent more money than anyone to land the Next Pelé, one that would (will) ultimately end up topping the inimitable Brazilian genius in the historical rankings of the Canarinha – with his record-breaking goals getting scored on Qatari soil, of all places.

Paris slept tight on Tuesday night. Even though yesterday’s victory served the purpose of advancing to the next round of matchups, it truly signified the start of the competition is ahead of PSG as qualification for the Round of 16 was always a given.

Three questions after PSG beat Ajaccio in Ligue 1. dark. Next

Less flashy stages are ahead for Paris before and after visiting Juventus next midweek to wrap up the initial UCL phase. Troyes is next, visiting the Parc on Saturday evening. Lorient and Auxerre would follow them on the domestic front before nearly all of the squad packs their bags for the World Cup.