Paris Saint-Germain extended their lead at the top of the table this weekend as they put an end to their three-game winless run in tonight’s Classique against Marseille. The visitors, despite an intense pressing game and an ambitious start, gradually lost control of the game and struggled to find any incisive edge going forward.
The hosts dominated the opening exchanges as Pau López was forced into the first few of a host of saves across the half, with Messi trying his luck first before Achraf Hakimi was kept out from close range at the back post. Marseille continued to impress throughout the half with their high pressing and even dominated possession despite conceding the majority of chances.
But the league leaders finally made the breakthrough right at the end of the half, as the ball was won back in midfield and Vitinha played it wide for Mbappé, who found Neymar in the box for the Brazilian to make no mistake from close range.
PSG struggled at the start of the second half but eventually began setting up chances again, with López notably keeping out Marco Verratti (!) from doubling the lead. The eventual turning point though, came as the substitute Samuel Gigot was handed a straight red card for a rash challenge on Neymar.
PSG – 1
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6
Achraf Hakimi, 4
Danilo Pereira, 5 (Nordi Mukiele, 6)
Juan Bernat, 5
Fabián Ruiz, 7 – The three-man midfield with Verratti and Vitinha – PSG’s habitual midfield duo – was the bright spot of the night in a much-changed PSG side. The Spaniard with arguably his best performance yet for the league leaders.
Marco Verratti, 6
Lionel Messi, 6 – An encouraging performance on the Argentine’s return from injury – Messi drew a save early on from López and was constantly involved in PSG’s forward forays, even if there was a dip at the start of the second half. Came close again to scoring when his free-kick hit the bar, and substituted for Pablo Sarabia with ten minutes to go.
Kylian Mbappé, 4 – The Frenchman – who made all the headlines in the build-up to the game – was largely not at the races tonight, even if he does have an assist to Neymar to his credit. Looked to get at the Marseille defence on more than one occasion but was mostly kept out by Chancel Mbemba.
Neymar, 7 – Registered his 9th of the season to open the scoring late on and drew the foul which eventually put the nail in the coffin on Marseille’s chances. After a slight slump in the last few weeks after his sensational start to the season, the Brazilian has once again showed up for the big occasion.
Marseille – 0
Pau López, 8 – The Spaniard with his best match for Marseille so far, effectively keeping the scoreline down with a host of saves – five in the first half alone.
Chancel Mbemba, 7 – The all-action defender largely managed to keep Kylian Mbappé quiet and popped up all around the pitch.
Éric Bailly, 5 (Samuel Gigot, 3) – The Manchester United loanee went off injured in the first half, to be replaced by Gigot, whose rash challenge on Neymar effectively ended any hopes of a Marseille revival.
Leonardo Balerdi, 5
Jonathan Clauss, 5
Valentin Rongier, 4
Jordan Veretout, 5
Nuno Tavares, 6
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Mattéo Guendouzi, 6
Amine Harit, 5
Alexis Sánchez, 5 – The forward appeared rather isolated up front, despite his tireless efforts, and was unable to have much of an impact on the game.