PARIS, Dec 8 (AP): Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi both scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain punished Brugge 4-1 in their final Champions League group game on Tuesday.
PSG had already qualified for the knockout phase of Europe’s elite club tournament but did not sit back at the Parc des Princes.
In the wake of two lackluster draws in the French league, Mauricio Pochettino’s star-filled team showed a better face to end Brugge’s hopes of clinching a spot in the second-tier Europa League.
The Belgian champions were handed a fourth straight loss in the tournament and finished last in Group A behind Leipzig. Manchester City won the group ahead of PSG.
PSG got off a brilliant start with Mbappe scoring twice within the opening seven minutes, thought the team faded after the interval.
“We took this match seriously and we delivered a complete performance,” Mbappe said. “We can still improve. The bottom line is that we need to manage our weak times better. We have weak times, which are maybe much too weak.”
The hosts converted their first chance in the second minute after Nuno Mendes combined with Mbappe down the left side. Simon Mignolet parried away Mendes’ cross and the ball returned to Mbappe, who fired past the Brugge goalkeeper to the far post.
Overwhelmed by PSG’s strong press, Brugge conceded again after Angel Di Maria picked out Mbappe in the box with a pinpoint pass over the defense. The France striker expertly volleyed the ball into the back of the net.
It wasn’t perfect for the French team, though, as Brugge had two big chances in the first half through Cisse Sandra and Mats Rits but failed to convert.
Messi then made it 3-0 with a signature effort in the 38th minute from Mbappe’s assist. Mbappe nutmegged a Brugge player as he burst down the left side then passed the ball to the Argentine star, who advanced near the edge of the box and curled his left-footed shot inside the post.
Brugge returned from the dressing room with determination while PSG’s intensity dropped sharply with players looking apathetic.
Brugge dominated for long spells without finding a cutting edge until the hosts were made to pay for their excess of nonchalance. After Marco Verratti and Idrissa Gueye communicated poorly to give the ball away in midfield, Noa Lang set up Rits in the area and the midfielder beat Gianluigi Donnarumma with a low shot.
PSG was awarded a penalty in the 76th after Messi was brought down in the box. The former Barcelona player coolly converted with a shot to Mignolet’s left-hand side.