Kylian Mbappe produced a breathtaking display of football by scoring a hat-trick to lead Paris Saint-Germain to a decisive 4-1 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona simply had no answer for the 22-year-old French attacker, who completely dominated the hosts with his speed, skill and power to secure a result that could make next month's second leg in Paris the final Champions League match in a Barcelona shirt for Lionel Messi.
The Argentine got the home side on the scoreboard first, but soon enough Mbappe took over with his three goals, on top of a score for Moise Kean for the French visitors.
There was big news in the starting XI of Ronald Koeman, as Gerard Pique returned after being out three months due to injury and slotted in at centre-back. Also returning as a starter was right-back Sergino Dest, while Pedri got the nod in midfield with Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong.
As for Mauricio Pochettino's PSG, there were two big absences in the form of ex-Barcelona man Neymar and former Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria.
Barcelona got the first break of the series when Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers whistled for a penalty for Layvin Kurzawa clipping De Jong from behind in the area. VAR upheld the call and Messi coolly converted the spot kick for a 1-0 lead.
PSG quickly responded and did it with a goal dripping with class, with Kurzawa crossing to Marco Verratti, whose exquisite touch pass with the outside of his foot found Mbappe and the World Cup winner took a touch to elude Clement Lenglet before firing past Marc-Andre ter Stegen into net to pull PSG level.
The scoreline may have shown a draw at intermission, but PSG were clearly the superior side with their dominance in midfield and ability to control the tempo. Meanwhile, Barcelona looked timid going forward and could call themselves fortunate to have even gotten on the scoreboard.
There was a sense that PSG could break things open at any moment and in short order the second Parisian goal came to make it 2-1. Alessandro Florenzi, held onside by Dest, received a long ball down the right and sent in a cross that was deflected by the retreating Pique and Mbappe reacted first, beating Dest to the ball and hammering a shot home for the goal.
PSG were flying and minutes later it was 3-1 when Kean got in front of De Jong and Jordi Alba on a freekick and easily headed into net.
Koeman turned to his bench for some sort of answer, and so it was Oscar Mingueza for the ineffective Dest, followed later by Trincao, Riqui Puig and Miralem Pjanic for Pedri, Pique and Busquets respectively.
The closest Barcelona came to scoring in the second half was off a near-blooper from Keylor Navas when Griezmann blocked a pass from the Costa Rican and the ball nearly deflected into goal.
Martin Braithwaite for Griezmann was the final substitution in the final minutes, but it mattered not because the night be longed to Mbappe, who polished off a counter attack and all but ended Barcelona's European campaign with a perfect right-footed finish to complete the 4-1 scoreline.
1.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Dest (Mingueza, min. 71), Pique (Riqui Puig, min. 78), Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Busquets (Pjanic, min. 78), De Jong, Pedri (Trincao, min. 78), Dembele, Griezmann (Braithwaite, min. 85), Messi
4.- PSG: Keylor, Florenzi (Kehrer, min. 89), Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kurzawa, Gueye (Herrera, min. 46), Paredes, Verratti (Draxler, min. 73), Kean (Danino, min. 85), Mbappe, Icardi
Goals: 1-0, min. 27: Messi (p); 1-1, min. 32: Mbappe; 1-2, min. 65: Mbappe; 1-3, min. 70: Kean; 1-4, min. 85: Mbappe
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands).
Yellow cards: Gueye (Min. 20) for PSG
Red cards: None
Stadium: Camp Nou
Source: Marca / Arch Bell