Football

Di Maria eyes Champions League glory

Angel di Maria has set his sights on lifting the Champions League trophy after Paris St Germain thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of their last-16 clash yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Di Maria turned in a Man-of-the-Match display on his 29th birthday, opening the scoring with a precise free-kick and bending home a second in the second half at Parc des Princes.

A Barca side stuffed with some of the world's most decorated stars were brushed aside with ease as Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani added their names to the scoresheet.

The job must still be finished off in the return leg at the Nou Camp but, di Maria, who won the competition with Barca's El Clasico rivals Real Madrid in 2014, is already eyeing the big prize.

"It's hard to think of a better birthday or a better performance than this," he said.

"Our aim is to reach the final and win the Champions League.

"We are getting there gradually and moving forward - this was a tough game against one of the best teams in the world, so we did a great job.

"We've been showing this for a few years now. We controlled the game for 90 minutes.

"It's not easy to control Neymar, (Luis) Suarez and (Lionel) Messi but we managed it.

"We covered so much ground, worked so hard as a team and the most important thing is we got the win and a big step forward."

No team have ever come back from losing an away game 4-0 in a two-legged European tie, but di Maria insists there can be no dip in standards if his side are to seal passage to the quarter-finals in Catalonia.

The Argentinian added: "There is still more to do at the Nou Camp. They will come out of the blocks fast to put pressure on us so we have to do the same as tonight and even more."

PSG coach Unai Emery could be forgiven for basking in the glory of such a victory after the criticism he faced in his early months in France.

However, the Spaniard preferred to strike a note of caution ahead of the return leg.

"We put in a great effort against a great team, but the message in the dressing room was that we still have 90 minutes to play," he said.

- WIRE SERVICES

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