Di María thrives as Real Madrid suffer defeat
Forward Ángel Di María was on target twice for Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday night as they kicked off their Champions League Group A journey with an impressive 3-0 win over Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes.
Di María’s contribution was added to by Thomas Meunier, who scored a third goal in injury time at the end of the game, to pile further pressure on Real manager Zinedine Zidane, who has returned a win ratio of less than 50% since rejoining the club as manager at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
With home advantage, the reigning French champions went into the game as favourites with sports betting companies, but few could have predicted their impressive margin of victory.
Eden Hazard, who was making his first start for Real after making the move from Chelsea this summer, had some moments of success, but overall he struggled to make his mark on the game, and instead it was former Real player Di María, making his 100th Champions League appearance, who dominated.
The Argentina international scored the game’s first goal with a powerful shot from close range that sneaked inside the near post after a pass by Juan Bernat.
Although Thibaut Courtois in the Real goal had to take his share of the blame for the first goal, he could do nothing about the second – a good move culminated in Idrissa Gueye setting up Di María, and he made no mistake, hitting the bottom corner of the Real net with a superb effort from 20 yards out.
The visitors had brief hopes of a comeback when Gareth Bale pulled off a brilliant lob to beat goalkeeper Keylor Navas from the edge of the box, but the goal was ruled out for a handball following a VAR review, and Karim Benzema suffered the same fate when his goal late in the second half was chalked off when VAR showed up an offside during the build-up.
The misery of the visitors was completed in injury time when Bernat and Meunier easily brushed aside the Real defence before Meunier slotted into the bottom corner.
The result was particularly impressive considering that PSG were without their main attacking trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé, and it will leave Zidane with plenty of food for thought over the coming days as he tries to turn around Real’s poor start to the season.
Words: Josh Dixon