No cruise control despite rout

Kylian Mbappe firing in Paris Saint-Germain's opener from a tight angle after only three minutes at Anderlecht. The visitors eventually won 4-0 to make it another perfect outing in their third Champions League Group B match.
Kylian Mbappe firing in Paris Saint-Germain's opener from a tight angle after only three minutes at Anderlecht. The visitors eventually won 4-0 to make it another perfect outing in their third Champions League Group B match.PHOTO: REUTERS

Coach says PSG are still seeking the right balance even after 12 wins in 13 games

BRUSSELS • Finding the right balance of individual talent and tactical discipline remains a challenge for Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery, even after a 4-0 Champions League win at Anderlecht.

The Parisians have won all their three Group B games and are well on their way to qualifying for the knockout phase.

"We were happy to take the three points. Our goal is to finish first in our group," Emery said after Wednesday's match, emphasising that the acquisition of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had forced changes that were still being bedded in.

"We are like a new team, we need to progress, to improve on the details. We didn't master the game in the way we wanted to.

"In the first period, it wasn't perfect with the level of control of the match. We were sometimes surprised on the counter-attack.

"In the second half, we were better in terms of balance, positioning and tactics but we still need to mix the two aspects properly - the tactical discipline and the individual talent. It's my job is to give this balance to the team."

The triumph came relatively comfortably as Mbappe, 18, scored after just three minutes to became the highest-scoring teenager in Europe's top club competition with his eighth goal, surpassing the Dutchman Patrick Kluivert.

  • CHAMPIONS LEAGUE'S TOP TEEN SCORERS

  • 8 Kylian Mbappe (six for Monaco, and two for Paris Saint-Germain)

    7 Patrick Kluivert (Ajax)

    6 Raul Gonzalez (Real Madrid)

    6 Karim Benzema (Lyon)

    5 Bojan Krkic (Barcelona)

    5 Aiyegbeni Yakubu (Maccabi Haifa)

The Uruguayan Edinson Cavani scored his 12th goal this term as all three members of the famed MCN attack were involved, before the Brazilian Neymar rolled a clever free kick under the wall and into the bottom corner.

Substitute Angel di Maria raced clear to complete the scoring but Emery wanted an even stronger transition game.

He said: "This season we are very strong in the transition, especially if the opponent gives us space.

"We want to have this control, with the possession and transition, but it's still missing in a lot of our performances."

PSG, who could confirm progress to the next stage when they host Anderlecht on Oct 31, have won 12 of 13 games in all competitions to start the campaign. Last month's 0-0 French Ligue 1 draw at Montpellier remains the only blemish.

PSG (nine points) are now three clear of Bayern Munich, who beat Celtic 3-0 at home, at the top of the group ahead of the home match against bottom side Anderlecht.

PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi was in Belgium to watch his side cruise to victory. But there was less positive news for the Qatari. Al-Khelaifi, who is also the chief of beIN Media, will be questioned by Swiss prosecutors next Wednesday in a World Cup media rights probe.

He "wanted to be heard as soon as possible by the Swiss attorney general's office", the lawyer said, adding that his client "denies any corruption" over the sale of rights for future World Cups.

It was revealed last week that al-Khelaifi, who has strong connections to Qatar's royal family, and disgraced former Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke have been under investigation since March.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2017, with the headline 'No cruise control despite rout'. Print Edition | Subscribe