Angel Di Maria paid tribute to his teammates and coach after scoring two goals to inspire Paris Saint-Germain to a 4-0 Champions League victory on Tuesday, but warned that Barcelona are not yet finished.
The Argentina international scored once in either half, while Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani both added strikes to complete a famous thrashing at Parc des Princes.
Speaking with beIN Sports after the final whistle in the French capital, Di Maria admitted he has turned a corner since the start of 2017.
“To do that on my birthday was incredible,” the 29-year-old said. “As the coach requested, we produced the perfect performance.
“As I have said before, I made the most of the Christmas holidays to be with my family and since 2017 started, things have improved from the first half of the season.
“To qualify, we will need to produce a similar performance. We scored four goals but they could easily do the same in the return leg.”
PSG coach Unai Emery was delighted with his players but is under no illusions that the tie is not completely dead yet.
“We will continue with caution,” Emery said. “We talked about the importance of this first leg in front of our supporters. We won and we did not concede a goal. We also finished with 11 men, which was important, especially after Rabiot’s early booking.
“It was a good game and we now hold a good advantage. We have only played 90 minutes, as we said before the match.
“Barca are very strong and they will still be strong at Camp Nou. We will be made to suffer there. We must go there thinking that the match has been reset to 0-0.”
Like Di Maria, Cavani was also celebrating his birthday and the 30-year-old Uruguay international marked the occasion with the fourth and final goal.
El Matador admitted the match will live long in his memory because it happened on his birthday.
“The best match since I joined PSG? I believe we have put in some major performances over these four years in Paris,” said Cavani. “However, this one has a particularly special flavour to it because it was a special day for me.
“We did a fine job. We are going to celebrate a little but also rest up for what is to come. Football is very beautiful because we do not what will happen in the next game.
“We must also remember our situation in Ligue 1. We must keep working hard in the league and the domestic cups, which are also very important.”
Centre-back Marquinhos said PSG would try to remain focused while still being wary of Barcelona strength at home in the second leg on March 8.
“Everyone is super happy,” Marquinhos said. “We must keep our feet on the ground, work well and prepare because we know that Barca are a formidable team at Camp Nou. We will have to suffer, defend and attack together.”
Next up for PSG are Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Sunday and the men from the capital will try to keep the pressure on league leaders AS Monaco with a win.
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