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Mbappe hits hat trick in Champions League last 16, as PSG pummel Barcelona

Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain scored a spectacular hat trick as his side defied Neymar's absence to thrash Barcelona 4-1 away on Tuesday in their Champions League last-16 first leg to come within full view of the quarterfinals.

In the first half, Lionel Messi had blasted Barca ahead with a penalty, but with a classy piece of control and completion to complete a fluid team transfer involving Marco Verratti and Layvin Kurzawa, Mbappe brought the French champions even.

Mbappe, who had not scored two years before Tuesday in the Champions League knockouts, smashed PSG into the lead in the 65th minute, while Moise Kean took advantage of some woeful Barca marking to lead the visitors in the 70th to a third point.

However, the insatiable Mbappe seemed greedy for more and he completed his treble in the 85th minute after being denied his third goal by Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen by curling the ball past the German into the top corner.

In a last-16 first leg in 2017, Barca overcomes a 4-0 loss to PSG by winning the second leg at home 6-1 and the Catalans are now facing another difficult challenge in turning this tie around as they visit the Parc des Princes on March 10.

Barcelona started the game crowing from a streak of seven straight La Liga victories, but although bolstered by the return of serial defensive winner Gerard Pique after almost three months out, they have swept away on the hand of Mauricio Pochettino.

As he strolled in on the target, Mauro Icardi should have given last year's runners-up the lead, but the Argentine scuffed his shot and Barca's teenage midfielder Pedri recovered to clear.

Barca then got a lucky break when Kurzawa unintentionally tripped Frenkie de Jong and Messi smashed his penalty past former Real Madrid keeper Keylor Navas to score the fourth goal, all from spot-kicks, in this season's tournament.

After 32 minutes, PSG replied emphatically with its classy team goal and should have gone ahead before the break when Kurzawa was thwarted by a fingertip saving from Ter Stegen and Icardi headed from a corner just wide.

Barca has had their moments, Antoine Griezmann displaying outstanding speed from the halfway line to run for goal, but landing his shot just short of the far post.

However, the second half belonged to PSG, and no one better symbolized their confidence than the bright Mbappe, who, after Andriy Shevchenko in 1997, became the first player to score a visiting hat-trick at Camp Nou.

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