Champions league: PSG reach final

Champions league: PSG reach final
Marquinhos rises to head home his fifth goal of the season on Tuesday.
LISBON, AUG 19 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 8/19/2020 9:45:58 AM IST

Paris Saint-Germain reached their first Champions League final with a dominant display to beat RB Leipzig 3-0 at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.

Marquinhos set Thomas Tuchel’s side on their way, heading home Angel Di Maria’s free-kick (13) before Di Maria doubled PSG’s lead three minutes before the break following a mistake by Peter Gulacsi.

Juan Bernat glanced in PSG’s third 11 minutes into the restart from another Di Maria cross while Neymar struck the post twice in a one-sided semi-final.

In the climax to an engrossing fortnight of European football, PSG will face the winners of Bayern Munich’s last four clash with Lyon on Wednesday evening as they seek to mark their 50th anniversary with a first Champions League trophy.

On Tuesday, L’Equipe ran the headline ‘Changer de Planete’, encouraging PSG to reach the next level - or ‘go to another world’ - after years of near misses. The response was emphatic.

“We ate them up from minute one,” said the influential Di Maria. “It’s going to be tough to sleep between now and the final. We worked hard all game and we showed we deserve to be here. It doesn’t matter who we face: either Bayern or Lyon, we’ll give our all.”

Tuchel’s men were odds-on favourites in the first of these Franco-German semi-final clashes and they are now just one game away from ending their wait for a first Champions League trophy having become the first Ligue 1 club to reach the final since Monaco in 2004.

The last time PSG reached the Champions League semi-finals in 1995, it was three years before Kylian Mbappe was born and 14 years before RB Leipzig even came into existence - but having left it late to book their place in the final four, this was a far more straightforward night for the nine-time Ligue 1 champions.

They might have been in front as early as the seventh minute when Mbappe, on his return to the starting line-up, set Neymar free of Angelino but his shot with the outside of his boot brushed the post.

Moments later, referee Bjorn Kuipers spotted a handball from the Brazilian in charging down Gulacsi’s clearance to rule out Mbappe’s strike as Leipzig were warned of what was to come.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side - aiming to reach their first Champions League final just 11 years after they were formed - looked like they had been set up to contain their opponents, but they fell behind after 13 minutes when Marquinhos rose unmarked to nod home Di Maria’s free-kick.

It meant PSG had scored in each of their last 34 Champions League games, equalling Real Madrid’s record in a major European competition. But they weren’t finished there as Neymar went close to doubling his side’s lead with an audacious free-kick which struck the outside of Gulacsi’s post.

Leipzig were desperate for the interval, but they were the creators of their own downfall three minutes before the break as PSG doubled their advantage. Gulacsi looked to play out from the back but his ball seeking Marcel Sabitzer only succeeded in finding Leandro Paredes, whose pass to Neymar was brilliantly flicked inside for Di Maria to ruthlessly fire into the net.

Leipzig had very little to show for their first-half efforts apart from a header wide by Yussuf Poulsen, and Nagelsmann made a double change at the break as he sought to stage a dramatic comeback.

Patrik Schick and Emil Forsberg replaced Christopher Nkunku and Dani Olmo, but despite starting the second period well, with the two substitutes both having attempts that were off target, it was PSG who extended their lead.

Nordi Mukiele slipped as he failed to clear a loose ball and subsequently played Bernat onside for the full-back to steer Di Maria’s cross into the far corner.

Leipzig were desperately short on firepower, understandable given the absence of 34-goal top scorer Timo Werner, and Mbappe had the chance to compound their misery when he somehow glanced his header wide from another Di Maria delivery with 20 minutes remaining.

But this had long-since been wrapped up as a contest. PSG have scored 70 goals in 22 games in 2020, and in their 110th game in the Champions League - the longest run of any team before reaching their first final - they are now 90 minutes away from achieving the ultimate prize.


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