Football

Anderlecht coach: PSG are the best team in Europe

Defeated Anderlecht coach Vanhaezebrouck says PSG are the ones to beat this season

Paris Saint-Germain cruised to yet another comprehensive victory in the Champions League yesterday morning (Singapore time), in a performance that would send shudders up the spines of the traditional European powerhouses.

A Layvin Kurzawa hat-trick and one goal apiece from Marco Verratti and Neymar saw the French Ligue 1 side demolish Belgian club Anderlecht 5-0 as PSG stayed top of the group.

The impressive overall team display of Unai Emery's side suggests that everything is coming together now at the Qatari-owned club, one not short of ambition and who are not afraid to spend big to compete with the continent's elite.

The performance had even the Anderlecht coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck purring.

"If the final were tomorrow, they would win it," he said of PSG after the mauling at Parc des Princes.

"Right now, they are quite simply the best team in Europe."

The fourth big victory in as many games in the competition, coupled with Bayern Munich's 2-1 win away to Celtic, allowed the big-spending French giants to secure qualification from Group B with two games to spare.

PSG defender Thiago Silva said there is no shortcut to their success, just good old-fashioned hard work.

He said: "The whole team played with a lot of character and desire and, when we play like that, it's difficult for any team to come to the Parc.

"Today, we showed that PSG are a very strong side, but now we need to keep going."

As PSG coach Emery looked back on an evening where almost everything went right for them, he pointed out the importance of putting in a convincing shift in front of the home fans.

He said: "Tonight, we gave them (Anderlecht) nothing. They had only two or three half-chances and that's what we keep working for, to keep improving as a team."

PSG's win came as no surprise after their barnstorming start to the campaign, but it came as a bit of a shock that the protagonist of yesterday's win wasn't one of the usual suspects.

Instead, left back Kurzawa stole the headlines from Neymar and Co. as he walked away with the match ball.

Kurzawa scored three times in the space of 26 minutes after the break as PSG ran away with the game following first-half strikes from Verratti and Neymar.

SECOND PSG HAT-TRICK

Neymar, the world's most expensive player, now has 11 goals in 12 appearances since arriving from Barcelona for a fee of 222 million euros (S$351m) in August.

Said Kurzawa: "This hat-trick gives me a huge amount of pleasure. It's the first hat-trick of my professional career.

"We're all enjoying ourselves on the pitch and we're giving our supporters lots of joy as well."

The 25-year-old French international fullback had scored just once this season coming into the match and had never found the net in the Champions League proper before yesterday's match.

And the former Monaco player is just the second PSG player to score a hat-trick in the competition, following Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who netted four times in a game against Anderlecht in 2013.

PSG have scored 17 goals and conceded none in the competition and are through to the knockout rounds for the sixth season running as they aim to erase the memory of their humiliating defeat by Barcelona in the last-16 last season. - WIRE SERVICES

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