RB Leipzig 0-3 PSG: PSG beat RB Leipzig to reach the first Champions League final in an entertaining semi-final in Lisbon.
(African Stand) — Paris Saint-Germain are through to their maiden Champions League Final following a comfortable 3-0 victory over RB Leipzig.
Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat were all on target on a straightforward night for the dominant French quadruple winners in the first one-legged last-four tie at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.
Either domestic rivals Lyon or prolific Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich await PSG in Sunday’s final, with second France vs Germany semi-final battle to come at the Estadio Jose Alvalade on Wednesday night.
Leipzig showed one change to the starting XI that toppled Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals as French defender Nordi Mukiele replaced Marcel Halstenberg to facilitate a switch from a back three to a four-man defensive unit designed to help contain their opponents’ significant forward threats.
PSG, meanwhile, restored Kylian Mbappe – initially considered a major doubt for the mini-tournament in Portugal due to an ankle injury sustained in last month’s French Cup Final – to the starting lineup following his impactful 30-minute cameo in the quarter-final comeback against Atalanta and also welcomed back Di Maria from suspension.
Former Fulham loanee Sergio Rico was called upon to deputize for injured first-choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas, while outgoing captain Thiago Silva was deemed fit to start after a knock and Leandro Paredes replaced the injured Idrissa Gana Gueye in midfield.
With their most potent attacking triumvirate reunited, PSG looked to force the early initiative and Neymar – heavily criticized for a string of glaring quarter-final misses that could have cost his side dearly – toe-poked against the post and wide after being released by Mbappe’s low through-ball.
A handball from the Brazilian then prevented an early opener after Leipzig’s goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi had inadvertently thrashed the ball straight at him.
A miskick near the penalty spot from former PSG midfielder Christopher Nkunku followed by a hopeful strike from Marcel Sabitzer was as good as it got for Leipzig before they fell behind in the 13th minute when a fine free-kick from Di Maria – who had wasted an opportunity with a poor low cross just moments before – was headed in superbly by a rising Marquinhos.
That opener set the tone for the remainder of a one-sided first half, with Gulacsi making a strong close-range stop to deny Mbappe and Neymar clipping the woodwork again as he tried to deceive the Hungarian goalkeeper with a quick-thinking free-kick from wide on the right.
Between those chances, Sabitzer’s powerful free-kick for Leipzig was headed behind by Silva and Yussuf Poulsen shot wide after Konrad Laimer’s cut back and a fine ball over the top from Dani Olmo.
With tricky, fleet-footed duo Neymar and Mbappe leading the charge and Leipzig increasingly sloppy in possession, PSG threatened a second goal on the counter-attack and got it before the interval when a woeful pass from Gulasci was seized upon by Ander Herrera.
The former Manchester United midfielder’s powerful cross was expertly back-heeled into the path of Di Maria by Neymar, with the Argentine taking a composed touch before dispatching the ball firmly into the bottom corner.
It could and should have been 3-0 to PSG at the interval after Neymar shot narrowly wide, adding another miss to his growing collection.
Julian Nagelsmann – losing the tactical battle against PSG counterpart and former mentor Thomas Tuchel – sent on Patrik Schick and Emil Forsberg at half-time and the duo immediately gave Leipzig more attacking impetus as they began the second half on the front foot.
However, any chance of a comeback was extinguished after a slip from Mukiele under pressure from Herrera, with the Leipzig defender – who wanted a foul – then playing Bernat onside as the Spaniard headed Di Maria’s front-post cross past Gulacsi.
Neymar was intent on helping the ball in, but it had already crossed the line before his intervention at the back post.
That third goal completely took the wind from Leipzig’s sails and Mbappe headed wide and was then thwarted by a one-handed save from Gulacsi as PSG searched for number four.
Sergio Rico did well to parry a swerving Angelino effort, while at the other end Di Maria and Paredes both had chances to further extend the lead before Lukas Klostermann’s botched clearance under pressure from Mbappe forced Gulacsi into action once more.
The introduction of quarter-final hero Tyler Adams made little impact for Leipzig, who were comfortably second-best all night and clearly lack an attacking focal point now all-time top scorer Timo Werner has joined Chelsea.
However, they deserve credit for reaching the last four during what was only their second season of Champions League football.
Meanwhile, the sense of relief among all at PSG at reaching the final after years of high-profile failures on the biggest stage will be palpable.
They are the 41st French Champions League finalists and first since AS Monaco in 2004.