If all was supposed to go back to normal following the return of Zinedine Zidane to Real Madrid, then this was certainly not part of the plan.
With Neymar and Kylian Mbappe watching from the stands, it was Angel Di Maria who would step up and steal the show inside the Parc Des Princes. The Argentine struck a brace to come back and haunt his former club, who deemed him surplus to requirements in the summer of 2014, before insult was added to injury as Thomas Meunier scored a well-worked effort in stoppage time.
Everyone forgot about Di Maria in the build-up. This was to be Eden Hazard’s debut. And it was also to be the night when Madrid would get their chance to beat PSG while they had Kylian Mbappe and Neymar out suspended and injured. But with those two sat high in the stand like royalty the workers down below ran and ran until they had run Madrid into the ground.
No-one covered more ground than Idrissa Gueye who in front of a watching Claude Makelele gave a performance he would have been proud of – the former Aston Villa and Everton midfielder might even have shaded Di Maria for best player on the pitch. PSG took the lead on 14 minutes when Juan Bernat crossed and Di Maria swept the ball past Thibaut Courtois.
Militao had been to slow to close down Di Maria and Courtois had left a gap at his near post which Di Maria found with deadly precision. It was 2-0 on 33 minutes when PSG took a throw on the right touchline and after a few pinball passes Di Maria found himself with space on the edge of the Real Madrid area.
Bale was the only threat to PSG’s goal and 10 minutes from half time he had the ball in the net with a glorious lob over Keylor Navas stunned to be beaten despite being only a couple of strides off his line. Bale didn’t celebrate like a man who had just scored as goal just as good as his Champions League final goal in Kiev, more like a player sensing VAR was bound to have spotted the little nudge he gave the ball with the top of his hand as he juggled into position to shoot. And so it was. Anthony Taylor ran to the monitor pitchside and ruled out the strike.
Twice at the restart Courtois had to save Madrid from going further behind as PSG kept up the first-half pace with Di Maria sliding into tackles and Gueye covering every part of the pitch – that included him tracking back to leave Hazard in a heap by the byline as, having worked himself into a good position, he ran out of steam.
PSG got the third when full-backs Thomas Meunier and Bernat combined with the former finishing to complete a miserable night for Real Madrid. They were blown away by a PSG side who had their most valuable assets grinning down from the seats in the stand.