Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

was hailed as "exceptional" after scoring twice against his former club as Paris Saint-Germain shrugged off the absences of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and thrashed 3-0 on Wednesday to get off to the perfect start in the .

No Neymar. No Kylian Mbappe. No problem.

With two first-half goals from Angel Di Maria and a rare late strike from right-back Thomas Meunier, a new-look Paris Saint-Germain missing its headline stars beat a lackluster Real Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League to go top of Group A in an impressive start to its European campaign on Wednesday.

Di Maria, a winner with Madrid in 2014, was rampant against his former club, using his phenomenal speed and clever placing to torment a Madrid defense sorely missing the suspended Sergio Ramos.

The Argentine's first goal poked past Thibaut Courtois' near post in the 14th minute was his 25th in 100 European matches.

Some of PSG's new recruits were instrumental in the victory.

Di Maria's opener originated with Mauro Icardi, a late loan-signing from Inter Milan. He linked up smartly with left-back Juan Bernat, who then found Di Maria in space in the box with a sneaky inward-cutting pass.

Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Idrissa Gueye, bought from Everton.

Di Maria caressed a pinpoint shot with his left foot from long range past the outstretched Courtois and celebrated enthusiastically as Paris fans lit red flares.

PSG captain Thiago Silva said the win showed "character and personality."

"We were efficient. We were solid," he said.

Gareth Bale thought he'd got a goal back moments after Di Maria's second strike with a sweet volley over former Madrid teammate Keylor Navas, bought by Paris to provide added assurance behind the PSG defense.

But in consulting the video replay, referaee Anthony Taylor spotted that the Wales winger had touched the ball with his right arm as he juggled the ball from his left foot to his right one before shooting.

Meunier's goal in second-half injury time was only his sixth in 48 European matches and capped an impressive PSG performance that left Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane scowling.

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