PSG hammers Red Star Belgrade, McKennie wins it for Schalke

Associated Press
0 Comments

The early Champions League kickoffs treated fans to a pair of games as an appetizer to the main 3:00 p.m. ET event, and while Neymar was the star of the show, an American youngster stole some of the spotlight.

The Brazilian scored a hat-trick, including a pair of free-kicks, as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 6-1 victory over Red Star Belgrade in the French capital. His first came on a delicious set-piece from straight-on outside the top of the box, curling it over the wall and into the top-left corner, leaving Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan no chance as he went full stretch.

Neymar scored again just two minutes later as PSG displayed speed in the attack. He played a perfect one-two with Kylian Mbappé, first springing the young French star with a through-ball before trailing the play and roofing the cross for a 2-0 lead.

Edinson Cavani followed that with his first goal of the game for a blistering 3-0 lead eight minutes before the break. It was a hilariously sloppy goal that came off a bungled clear, falling right into Cavani’s lap as he danced around scattered defenders and fired a shot that deflected past Borjan. Angel Di Maria added a fourth for the hosts minutes later, and Mbappe got himself on the scoresheet in the second half before former Chelsea midfielder Marko Marin grabbed a consolation for Red Star late.

Neymar finished off his hat-trick in the dying minutes as he whipped in a free-kick from nearly the exact same position as the first – only a few feet further out – and he went to the top-right corner this time, leaving Borjan with no chance. This time, the goalkeeper didn’t even dive, just giving it an exasperated look before starting to laugh. Cavani nearly had his second and PSG’s seventh, but it was ruled out for offside.

The other early game appeared to be devoid of excitement, until 20-year-old American midfielder Weston McKennie stepped up and bagged the winning goal in the 88th minute. The shot was just the sixth on target of the entire match for both sides, but it made all the difference.

McKennie becomes the eighth American international to score a Champions League goal – and his goal is the latest of any American international in the competition – while more importantly, it marks his first professional club goal.