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PSG sail into last 16 as Kurzawa nets hat trick in rout of Anderlecht


Left-back Layvin Kurzawa scored a second-half hat trick as Paris Saint-Germain crushed Anderlecht 5-0 to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday.

PSG, who are unbeaten this season, could have had more goals but squandered five clear scoring opportunities before Marco Verratti opened things up in the 30th minute with a well-taken effort.

Brazil star Neymar, after fluffing his earlier shots, made it 2-0 deep into first-half stoppage time with a fine strike from the edge of the penalty area.

Then it was the unheralded Kurzawa's turn to shine in a star-studded side that are desperate to prove they belong among Europe's elite after failing to go beyond the quarterfinal stage in the past five seasons.

Kurzawa added the third goal after 52 minutes, when Neymar's free kick hit the post and bounced up to him, and then scored the fourth after Neymar and countryman Dani Alves combined to set him up with a telling cross in the 72nd.

Just six minutes later, the France international drilled the ball into the bottom right corner from just inside the penalty area after substitute Angel Di Maria inadvertently rolled the ball perfectly into his path as he forayed toward goal.

"I scored thanks to my teammates," Kurzawa said. "I've gained a bit of confidence back."

PSG have won all their four matches so far in Group B -- scoring 17 goals while conceding none -- and are three points clear of Bayern Munich. The German champions joined PSG in the knockout stages after winning 2-1 away to Scottish champion Celtic.

Anderlecht lost 4-0 at home to PSG and were up against it straight away.

PSG almost scored after 33 seconds when Kylian Mbappe's defense-splitting pass presented Neymar with a good chance, but goalkeeper Frank Boeckx blocked his angled shot from the left.

Neymar missed another when casually swiping at the ball near the penalty spot from Mbappe's pass. Germany winger Julian Draxler and Mbappe had shots saved by Boeckx and top scorer Edinson Cavani headed wide from a corner -- all inside a breathless 20 minutes.

When the pressure finally told, it was a rare goal from Verratti.

Neymar and Mbappe combined, with the latter's pass finding Verratti lurking inside the left of the area. The Italy midfielder steadied himself before cutting past a defender and curling the ball into the top right corner.

Although PSG were largely untroubled, they gave the ball away carelessly several times in the first half and would doubtless have been punished for that by a better side.

Neymar, the world's most expensive player who cost ?éČ222 million from Barcelona, was also sloppy. He missed an easy pass to a teammate and wasted another scoring chance at 1-0.

But in the fourth minute of first-half injury time he played a short corner, swapped a pass with Draxler, advanced across the edge of the area and then drove in an unstoppable drive.

After missing again early into the second half, Neymar hit the post with a free kick from 25 metres out and Kurzawa followed up well to athletically flick the ball into the net.

Kurzawa started his career as a striker, before converting to a full-back as he came through Monaco's ranks before joining PSG two seasons ago.

He showed a forward's instincts, flinging himself to head home after Alves had volleyed Neymar's long pass back across the area. Substitute Giovani Lo Celso missed it, but Kurzawa was well placed to profit.

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