Neymar scores four as Cavani matches Zlatan record

Updated 18 January 2018
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Neymar scores four as Cavani matches Zlatan record

PARIS: Neymar scored four times while Edinson Cavani equalled Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Paris Saint-Germain all-time goalscoring record as the runaway Ligue 1 leaders thrashed Dijon 8-0 on Wednesday.
Angel Di Maria struck twice inside the opening quarter-hour at the Parc des Princes before the Argentine provided the cross for Cavani to net his 156th PSG goal.
Neymar marked his return from a rib injury with the hosts’ fourth just before half-time, and the Brazilian made it a hat-trick with two more second-half strikes as Dijon were mercilessly ripped apart.
Kylian Mbappe piled on further misery for the visitors 13 minutes from time before Neymar notched his fourth of the evening from the penalty spot — denying Cavani the chance to make club history and eliciting whistles from home supporters.
“(Cavani) is our goalscorer and he’s improved a lot here. The team helped him to achieve this individual mark,” said PSG coach Unai Emery, who was quick to defend Neymar’s decision to take the spot-kick.
“I think Neymar took the penalty because it was also a good day for him. We’re happy with it. But there will be lots more chances for Cavani to score more goals.”
Argentine Di Maria, who grabbed the winner in Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Nantes, needed just four minutes in Paris to put the home team ahead with a stunning left-footed strike into the top corner.
The former Real Madrid and Manchester United winger added a second when he applied the final touch after Neymar lifted the ball over Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet following a ball through from Cavani.
The Uruguayan then netted his league-best 20th goal of the season by heading in a right-wing cross from Di Maria, pulling level with the record Ibrahimovic set across four seasons in the French capital.
Neymar made it 4-0 on 42 minutes with a sublime free-kick, with the world’s most expensive player pouncing on a miscued clearance to double his tally just before the hour.
He then struck a sensational third goal of the night with a run that beat several Dijon defenders and culminated in a crisp low drive from the edge of the area.
Neymar released Mbappe as the teenager scored within five minutes of replacing Di Maria, while the Brazilian rounded out a record home win for PSG from the spot after Cavani tumbled to the ground.
“It was a very, very good PSG against a Dijon side that unfortunately didn’t put up much resistance. We were almost perfect today,” PSG defender Thomas Meunier told Canal+.
PSG have yet to drop a point at home this season and lead Lyon by 11 points, with a trip to face Bruno Genesio’s men next up for the league leaders at the weekend.
Nabil Fekir scored his 15th goal of the campaign as Lyon defeated Guingamp 2-0, with 19-year-old midfielder Houssem Aouar also on target at the Stade du Roudourou.
“Nabil’s performance was extraordinary. He’s been on a roll since the start of the season. He’s at an international level and doing it consistently, which is a good sign for us,” Genesio said.
Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes conceded a last-gasp penalty in a 1-1 draw at Toulouse, as Max-Alain Gradel salvaged a point for the hosts by canceling out a first-half header from Slovenia international Rene Krhin.
Yann M’Vila endured a chastening return to French football as his Saint-Etienne debut ended in a 3-0 defeat at bottom side Metz, who won for the third time in four outings.


Three key duels in the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool

Updated 38 sec ago
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Three key duels in the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool

  • Marcelo will have to find a way to stop Salah
  • Ronaldo will come up against the mountainous van Dijk

The two highest scoring sides in this season's Champions League face off for the title when defending champions Real Madrid and Liverpool go head-to-head in Kiev on Saturday. With goals seemingly guaranteed in the Ukrainian capital, we look at the key matchups where the game could be won and lost.

Virgil van Dijk vs. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo is looking to join an esteemed group of 10 players to win five European Cups by scoring in his fourth separate final.
After a slow start to the season, the World Player of the Year has been in stunning form since the turn of the year, scoring 30 goals in 23 appearances for club and country in 2018.
Ronaldo leads the Champions League goalscorers charts for the sixth consecutive season with 15, but will come up against the world's most expensive defender in £75 million ($100 million) Dutchman Virgil van Dijk in Kiev.
Van Dijk already looks worth the massive price Liverpool paid Southampton for his services in January, as much for the improvement he has inspired in those around him as his own performances.
"I feel also personally much more confident when you know you have a really good partner next to you," said Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren.
"He's a leader, he takes control," added right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. "He's really got authority."

Mohamed Salah vs. Marcelo

Salah has been the star turn of Liverpool's season, scoring 44 goals in his debut season at Anfield to plunder a series of individual Player of the Year awards.
The Egyptian should get plenty of space to showcase his blistering pace and new-found calm in front of goal in the space normally left unoccupied by Madrid's cavalier left-back Marcelo.
Salah exploited the gaps left by the Brazilian on numerous occasions when Roma were eliminated by Madrid from the Champions League two seasons ago, when Salah lacked the killer finishing touch he has demonstrated this season to take his chances.
Bayern Munich right-back Joshua Kimmich scored in both legs of this season's semi-final against Real with Marcelo caught out of position.
However, the Madrid vice-captain, now in his 11th year at the Bernabeu, makes up for his defensive liabilities by bombing forward at every opportunity to wreak havoc at the other end.
"I know exactly how I have to play," insisted Marcelo on Friday.
The flying full-back has scored against Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern on route to the final, and also has plenty of positive experience in Champions League finals having netted in 2014 and 2016, in a penalty shootout, against Atletico Madrid.

Roberto Firmino vs. Sergio Ramos

Overshadowed by Salah's sensational season, Firmino also has 10 Champions League goals to his name this season and is the key starting point for Jurgen Klopp's pressing game.
"He's not bothered about hard work, which is another important thing," said Klopp when Firmino recently extended his contract to 2023. "For an offensive player that is pretty rare in world football."
Described as a cross between a goalscoring number nine and creative number 10 by Brazil coach Tite, Liverpool will hope Firmino's movement can drag another Madrid Champions League specialist in Ramos out of position.
Madrid captain Ramos embodies this Real side as he tends to save his best for the big occasion.
The Spaniard started Real's recent run of European dominance with a stoppage time equaliser against Atletico in the 2014 final and also scored against Real's local rivals two years later in another all-Madrid showpiece.
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