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PSG thump Celtic 4-0 with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar among the scorers in dominant display

In the unforgiving world of David vS Goliath sporting contests, miracles are sometimes possible.

One took place at this very same Parc des Princes venue back in 2007, when a wonder goal by Scotland’s James McFadden brought World Cup finalists France down to earth.

So could a Celtic side costing just £25million assemble take the considerable pse-season scalp of a Paris Saint Germain starting XI that cost an eye-watering £650m to assemble?

It took just 55 seconds into this contest for hope to starts intersecting with brutal reality.

A goal down to the rampaging Kylian Mbappe with barely a minute on the clock and Celtic’s fans must have been fearing the very worst.

That their team’s 7-1 rout on their last visit here, on Champions League duty under Brendan Rodgers in November 2017, could be in danger of being outstripped.

After all, in their preparations for the last 16 of the Champions League against Atalanta next month, the ruthless French champions had just beaten Le Havre 9-0 away — ‘it could have been 15’, rued Le Havre manager and ex Rangers boss Paul le Guen — and smashed seven without reply past Belgian second tier side Waasland-Beveren.

But in holding PSG’s first choice XI to just 2-0 by the time Thomas Tuchel made 11 changes at the break — and enjoying a fair bit of possession and almost scoring during that time —there was a lot for Neil Lennon to be pleased about in the performance of his Scottish champions.

However, if the lack of a first half rout was a surprise, the identity of the player who was the biggest thorn in Celtic’s side in the opening 45 was oh so predictable.

In Neymar’s six previous matches against Celtic for both Barcelona and PSG the 28-year-old had netted seven times and contributed eight assists.

He also once reacted theatrically to a touch from Scott Brown to get the Celtic captain sent off in a Champions League encounter in Glasgow in 2013.

Both sides of the Brazilian were in evidence again last night in the French capital. The utter brilliance in his vision to set up the opening goal before scoring the second.

Then his baffling world class commitment to getting under the skin of opponents. Neymar took delight in needlessly showboating right in front of Lennon’s away technical area; he needled Celtic’s players and he kicked the ball away when the Parkhead boss was trying to get his side to take a quick throw in. 

But away from the dark arts there is no doubt that Neymar is a true talent.

Already reeling from the news that influential captain Scott Brown was injured, Celtic’s fans must have taken a gulp of air in when it was confirmed that the £198m Brazilian would not only be partnered by Mbappe (£166m) and Mauro Icardo (£45m) but also £49m Argentine winger Angel di Maria.

Paris Saint Germain fans love to see their Fantastic Four on the same pitch but do not always get their wish against the stronger teams because it tends to leave them open.

But manager Tuchel clearly expected the majority of the first half to be one way traffic. He was not alone. But he was not right.

First, though, the pairing of the world’s two most expensive strikers bore immediate dividends when Neymar bisected the Celtic defence. 

First, though, the pairing of the world’s two most expensive strikers bore immediate dividends when Neymar bisected the Celtic defence.

Usain Bolt in his prime may just have caught up with Mbappe but Nir Bitton could not.

The first teenager to score in a World Cup final, when France beat Croatia in Russia in 2018, MBappe showed his devastating finishing powers to send the ball high past a helpless Scott Bain.

The match was played in front of up to 5000 fans but the celebrations of supporters watching on Zoom were broadcast onto the big screens in the Parc des Princes.

But after Mbappe’s early opener, Celtic settled into their rhythm nicely. They kept hold of the ball without without really carving out chances of note.

The fear was that the instant PSG got the ball back they would roar straight up the pitch —a trait that saw former Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers once memorably describe the French champions as ’11 motorbikes’.

But it was a piece of luck that saw the hosts extend their lead. With 25 minutes on the clock a move down the right ended with the ball falling for Neymar in the box.

The Brazilian’s shot was tame but the ball struck the luckless Bitton and deflected past Bain for 2-0.

After a cheeky piece of skill by Neymar right in front of Lennon, the Brazilian played Mbappe through on goal. This time Bain rushed out and made a good block from the French superstar.

And Celtic nearly got a goal back when Ryan Christie swung in a freekick from the right flank and Christopher Jullien headed off the post.

After PSG changed their entire team at the break, former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera made it 3-0 by blasting a shot through Bain after a cross from Leandro Paredes.

When Marco Verratti chipped an exquisite ball into the Celtic box, the quality of Pablo Sarabia matched the delivery as he dispatched a sumptuous volley past Bain and into the net.

But that was the end of the scoring and given the gap in respective resources Celtic can be pleased with their pre-season efforts ahead of the new season and an assault on the Champions League.

And for all PSG’s endless reservoirs of money, Celtic possess the one thing that they covet most — a European Cup win in 1967.

The nouveau riche arrivistes of the European game, the French side has never won the Champions League.

They may not have been firing on all cylinders last night but it would be foolish to rule the Paris giant out of writing a fresh chapter in a fine city where history lurks around every corner.

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