Watch all the key plays as PSG and Real Madrid go head-to-head in Champions League group play.

By Avi Creditor
September 18, 2019

PSG and Real Madrid were both shorthanded as the two European powers opened play in Champions League Group A, but one of PSG's forgotten men stepped up for the occasion.

Angel Di Maria's first-half double put PSG in control, and Thomas Meunier scored late to give PSG a 3-0 win over Real Madrid in Paris.

PSG was without the injured Kylian Mbappe, Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani and the suspended Neymar, among other absences. Real Madrid, meanwhile, was without the suspended Sergio Ramos and Nacho, while Marcelo recently joined an injured list that also includes Luka Modric, Marco Asensio, Isco and Federico Valverde, leaving Zinedine Zidane with a thinned-out squad upon his return to the competition he won three straight seasons before temporarily stepping away as Real Madrid manager.

Eden Hazard was fit and did make his competition debut with Real Madrid, while stalwarts Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema ultimately couldn't find the back of the net against a PSG side desperate for Champions League success after early knockout-stage eliminations in recent years–one of which came at the hands of Real Madrid.

An added layer to the match involved Keylor Navas, who left Real Madrid for PSG after having enough of playing second-fiddle to Thibaut Courtois and relished the chance to go up against his former club so soon after his transfer and post a clean sheet.

PSG was denied an early penalty when Pablo Sarabia's chance from inside the box was hit right off the hand of Real Madrid defender Eder Militao. It was clearly accidental, but based on the new enforcement of the handball rule, it's a play that's been called a penalty on a number of occasions. English referee Anthony Taylor urged play to continue, though, despite Sarabia's pleas. 

Navas made his first intervention of the match in the seventh minute, with Bale racing down the right-hand side and firing in a cross intended for Hazard, only for the Costa Rican goalkeeper to come off his line and make a diving snag to prevent it from ever reaching the Belgian by the back post.

PSG took the lead in the 14th minute off a fine finish from Di Maria. The former Real Madrid winger burner his former team with a first-time strike from inside the box to cap a lovely combination down the left-hand side and give PSG a 1-0 advantage.

Real Madrid's best chance to equalize came just after the half-hour mark, with Idrissa Gueye taking out Bale in a dangerous spot with a tackle from behind. Bale didn't miss the target by much on the ensuing free kick, whizzing it just over the crossbar and firing a warning shot at PSG and Navas in the process.

Di Maria doubled PSG's lead in the 33rd minute. The sequence started on a throw-in, with Gueye eventually laying it off for Di Maria just outside the Real Madrid box. The Argentine international laced a volley by Courtois from 20 yards, making it 2-0 PSG.

The lead very nearly shrunk back to one goal in sensational fashion. Bale whipped a gorgeous right-footed volley from distance by Navas, but a VAR review confirmed that the Welsh star had the ball graze off his arm as he was settling it to hit, and Taylor wiped the goal off the board to keep it at 2-0.

Di Maria missed a chance to notch a hat trick on the hour mark, putting his chip from the left just over the bar after being played through into open space following a Real Madrid giveaway in the back.

Real Madrid had a goal ruled out by the assistant referee in the 76th minute. Lucas Vazquez was in an offside position and was ruled to be an active part of a play that ended with Benzema banging in what he thought was a goal that would make it 2-1, only for the offside flag to take it off the board.

Benzema came close minutes later, directing a header just wide of the far post on a clear look from close range.

PSG put the game away in the 89th minute through Meunier, who finished into a vacated net after a set-up from Bernat to make it 3-0 and put a wrap on a comprehensive win for the hosts, who top the group after one game.

Here were the lineups for both sides:

PSG returns to Champions League action at Galatasaray, while Real Madrid heads home to face Club Brugge in the teams' next group match on Oct. 1.

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