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PARIS – Angel Di Maria scored two superb goals as Paris Saint-Germain battered Barcelona from start to finish on Tuesday, hammering the five-time European champion 4-0 to take a huge advantage into the second leg of their Champions League knockout match.
The Argentina winger, totally out of form for much of the season, celebrated his 29th birthday in style, rifling in an 18th-minute free kick and then skipping past two weak challenges before curling in a superb second from 25 meters (yards) out, 10 minutes after the break.
Germany winger Julian Draxler continued his rich form since joining from Wolfsburg, smacking in the second goal late in the first half.
Top scorer Edinson Cavani, also celebrating his birthday, emphatically drilled home the fourth in the 72nd minute — his 34th goal of a rampant season. He is no longer second fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and is playing like a free spirit.
The noise level at Parc des Princes reached deafening proportions as the home fans watched in almost stunned disbelief as Barcelona cracked under waves of incessant pressure. Barcelona was supposed to be the favorite in the Round of 16 match, but the night turned into a damage limitation exercise, the way it does when weak sides are totally outclassed.
The way Barca lost its shape and composure was completely unbecoming of such a proud club.
Luis Enrique's side was destroyed by a PSG side playing with feverish determination, desperate to prove it belongs among Europe's elite after falling at the quarterfinals in the last four seasons.
This time it looks like the mighty Barcelona won't even reach the last eight, after equaling its worst ever Champions League defeat.