Neymar scored an inspired hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Istanbul Basaksehir 5-1 to clinch top spot in Champions League Group H in a resumed fixture that saw both sets of players make strong anti-racism messages.
The fixture at Parc des Princes was suspended after 13 minutes on Tuesday after it was alleged fourth official Sebastian Coltescu had exposed Basaksehir assistant Pierre Webo to racist language.
UEFA consequently launched an investigation and, after players for both teams united to make a stand against discrimination, Neymar ran the show, netting twice in a superb first-half showing and completing his hat-trick early in the second.
Kylian Mbappe ended a year-long wait for a Champions League goal before the break and scored a second following Mehmet Topal's brief riposte as PSG beat RB Leipzig to top billing in the pool.
20/20 - Neymar is the first player in the history of the European Cup/Champions League to score 20 goals for two different teams (Barcelona and PSG). Vision. pic.twitter.com/dV75pUE6jC— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 9, 2020
Fredrik Gulbrandsen and Mbappe had missed great chances by the time Neymar received Marco Verratti's pass, nutmegged Carlos Ponck and bent a sublime effort into the top-right corner to open the scoring in sensational fashion.
A rapid counter involving Rafinha and Mbappe resulted in Neymar squeezing his shot past Fehmi Mert Gunok to double the lead.
Mbappe made sure of the win before half-time, smashing home from 12 yards after Mitchell Bakker's tap-in was ruled out for offside but Gunok was penalised for fouling Neymar.
The visitors were again tormented by Neymar, who cut in from the left, combined with Angel Di Maria and rifled in his third from 20 yards five minutes after the restart.
Topal knew little about diverting Irfan Can Kahveci's powerful blast home to frustrate PSG keeper Keylor Navas, but Neymar led the charge from which Mbappe tapped in Di Maria's lay-off to round off a five-star showing.
What does it mean? PSG win group as clubs win applause for anti-racism message
As football continues to battle the evil of racism it was reassuring to see PSG's players and staff make a strong stand with their Basaksehir counterparts by walking off the pitch on Tuesday.
It was a theme that continued prior to Wednesday's resumption, with both sets of players wearing 'No To Racism' t-shirts (the same message was displayed in the stands, as was one of support for Webo from PSG's ultras), while players mixed in the centre circle and took the knee.
The message was strong, the message was clear and the response from both teams has been impressive.
Basaksehir grateful to see Ney-mar of PSG star
Amid the seemingly never-ending accusations of a penchant for theatrics it can often frustratingly feel that Neymar's inimitable talent can be forgotten.
For anyone who needed a reminder, there was one here. Neymar, who is now the first player to score 20 Champions League goals with two different teams, put six of his seven attempts on target, had a part in all five goals and completed 45 of 55 passes.
Mbappe masters Messi record
Mbappe had missed a couple of chances prior to whacking home his spot-kick for a first Champions League goal since a 5-0 hammering of Galatasaray a year ago.
Aged 21 years and 55 days, he is the youngest player to reach 20 Champions League goals, beating the record of Lionel Messi (22 years, 266 days). Whatever happened to him?
21y 355d - Kylian Mbappé has now scored 20 goals in the UEFA Champions League, becoming the youngest player in the competition's history to reach this goal tally. Phenomenon. pic.twitter.com/9w98vuphmP— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 9, 2020
Key Opta Facts
- PSG have now won their last five Champions League matches against Turkish sides by an aggregate score of 15-1, with this their heaviest victory in the competition since beating another Turkish side, Galatasaray, 5-0 in December last year.
- Since both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar signed for PSG in August 2017, they have combined for more Champions League goals than any other duo (nine), with Neymar scoring four of those.
- Neymar's treble for PSG was his third Champions League hat-trick, also doing so against Celtic in December 2013, and against Crvena Zvezda in October 2018; indeed, only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (eight each) have scored more hat-tricks in the competition than the Brazlian.
- Only Edinson Cavani (30) has scored more Champions League goals for PSG than Neymar, who, thanks to his hat-trick, moves level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on 20.
PSG are in Ligue 1 action at home to Lyon on Sunday, while Basaksehir host Gaziantep in the Turkish Super Lig.