A brilliant Kylian Mbappe hat-trick has fired Paris Saint-Germain to a 4-1 away thrashing of Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 first leg while Liverpool are also on course for the quarter-finals having defeated RB Leipzig 2-0.
Lionel Messi had blasted Barca ahead with a penalty in the first half but Mbappe pulled the French champions level with a classy piece of control and finishing to complete a flowing team move involving Marco Verratti and Layvin Kurzawa.
Mbappe, who had not scored in the Champions League knockout stage for two years before Tuesday’s encounter, smashed PSG into the lead in the 65th minute while Moise Kean took advantage of some woeful Barca marking to head in a third goal for the visitors in the 70th.
The insatiable Mbappe looked hungry for more though and, after being denied by Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, he completed his treble in the 85th minute by curling the ball past the German into the top corner to sensationally cap off a lighting counter-attack.
“We’re not yet in peak form, even if tonight was very good, but we’ll continue to improve so we can repeat this type of match,” Mbappe said.
Barca overcame a 4-0 defeat to PSG in a last-16 first leg in 2017 by winning the second leg at home 6-1 but the Catalans now face another daunting task in turning this tie around when they visit the Parc des Princes on March 10.
That is when six-time champions Liverpool will expect to finish the job against Leipzig at Anfield.
Second-half goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane earned the Reds a deserved win in the duel between German bosses Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
Dani Olmo headed an effort onto the post early but it was Liverpool, who had already threatened several times, that took control as Leipzig imploded with two horrific errors early in the second half.
Salah easily intercepted a mis-placed pass by Leipzig’s Marcel Sabitzer to put the visitors ahead in the 53rd minute and on course for their first win in any competition since late January.
Mane then pounced on another mistake when Nordi Mukiele failed to clear a long ball five minutes later, leaving the Germans down for the count in Budapest’s Puskas Arena where the game had been relocated due to COVID-19 restrictions in Germany.
Klopp revealed his delight at confounding expectations in certain quarters that the Reds’ recent poor run of form, with three successive losses domestically, would continue in Europe.
“A lot of people were waiting for us to slip again… And tonight the boys didn’t and I’m really happy for them,” Klopp told BT Sport.
“Leipzig can be a real monster, they overrun teams, really physical, pretty much good in everything, and tonight we controlled them in an exceptional way.”