AFPPARIS (AFP-Jiji) — Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel described Neymar as “sensational” after the world’s most expensive player scored a hat trick in a sublime display to lead Paris Saint-Germain to a 6-1 rout of Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Brazilian admitted before this game that he still did not feel back to 100 percent after the foot injury that required surgery and saw him miss the last three months of last season.
But he tore Red Star apart with two goals in the span of 2 first-half minutes at the Parc des Princes, the first a delightful curling free-kick, before completing his hat trick from another stunning free-kick late on.
“I really liked the effort made by the whole team, but Neymar was sensational,” said Tuchel.
“You can feel that he is hungry in every match, that he wants to be decisive, win the ball back, be at the heart of the play. He is one of the best players in Europe and that is very, very important for us.”
Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe also scored as PSG bounced back from a 3-2 defeat at Liverpool two weeks ago to register their first points in Group C.
But seeing Neymar play with a smile on his face again is especially encouraging for the French champions.
“Winning is the main thing that I want, but when I score goals I am even happier,” said Neymar, who called it his and PSG’s best game this season.
Paris has a double-header to come next against Napoli — which beat Liverpool 1-0 on Wednesday — and the Italians will offer a sterner test than Red Star, the 1991 European Cup winner that was unbeaten in 34 games before arriving at the Parc des Princes.
The Serbians grabbed a consolation goal through Marko Marin, but they could not cope with the home side’s front four, a quartet that cost PSG almost €530 million ($610 million) in transfer fees alone.
Such was the imbalance between the teams that PSG was never likely to be troubled, despite playing this game with one end of the Parc des Princes closed, a punishment following incidents in the defeat against Real Madrid in March.
This time trouble broke out after the match, with several hundred individuals involved in clashes with police outside the stadium, but the night was all about Neymar.