Neymar’s goal proved decisive as Paris Saint-Germain edged out Marseille in the Classique to move three points clear at the Ligue 1 summit.
Neymar’s ninth goal of the season moved Paris Saint-Germain three points clear at the Ligue 1 summit following a 1-0 victory over 10-man Marseille.
They wasted no time from the first whistle and peppered the visitors’ goal, but were pegged back by Igor Tudor’s side in a well-fought affair. Both sides had chances to take the lead, but it was Neymar who made his effort count at the end of the half-time whistle to make it 1-0.
Marseille recovered well after the break but were unable to find a way past PSG’s disciplined defense and lost whatever attacking thrust they had left as they were forced to play the remaining 20 minutes with 10 men. Christoph Galtier’s side did well with a rare, forced switch to a back four to secure all three points.
Lionel Messi wasted no time in getting to work on his return, forcing Pau Lopez into two low saves in the opening five minutes before Achraf Hakimi tried to pull a third from the stopper shortly afterwards.
After a shaky start, Marseille recovered well and began to create chances of their own, but again it was PSG who almost went in front, Neymar driving them forward on the counter-attack and sliding past Kylian Mbappe to force a fourth save from Lopez. .
Suddenly, the first half became a personal highlight for the Marseille stopper, who was called into action again to acrobatically tip over a deflected effort to keep the home side in check.
And if it wasn’t Lopez, it was the crossbar that denied PSG. In the 35th minute, Messi fired a free kick at goal, but the ball rattled under the crossbar and bounced into the net.
Just as Marseille went into the break thinking they had the hosts in check, all their hard work was lost. Mbappe, who was brought down by Marco Verratti in his own half, slotted past Neymar to make it 1-0 before the end of the first half.
The shot in the leg certainly did not deter Marseille, who put the home side under huge pressure in the early stages of the second half. Chancel Mbemba bombed forward from time to time but couldn’t get a clear sight of goal despite Marseille trying to keep PSG in their own half.
However, their bright spell faded as Marseille looked toothless when on top, allowing PSG to sit tight and slowly press their authority back into the game. And when early substitute Samuel Gigot needlessly hacked Neymar and received a straight red card in the 72nd minute, hopes of a comeback dwindled further.
Marseille clearly tired in the closing stages, allowing PSG to cruise to victory and re-establish a three-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.
PSG vs Marseille player ratings – Ligue 1
1. PSG (4-3-3)
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6/10 – Clean hands, confident performance and a clean sheet.
RB: Achraf Hakimi – 5/10 – Really wasteful going forward. Ought to have scored early on and under hit a pass in a great position in the first half, too.
CB: Marquinhos – 6/10 – Looked shaky at times in a new shape, but kept things together as a captain should do. Fine performance considering the circumstances.
CB: Danilo Pereira – N/A – Forced off through injury after just 24 minutes. Another defensive woe for Galtier to sweat over.
LB: Juan Bernat – 5/10 – Was happy to leave the attacking duties all down to Hakimi on the other flank.
CM: Fabian Ruiz – 6/10 – Not the most creative when in possession but stifled Marseille competently.
CM: Marco Verratti – 7/10 – Brilliant tackle to win the ball back and allow his side to pull ahead. Swept up seamlessly in midfield.
CM: Vitinha – 5/10 – Struggled to get into the game at first, but improved somewhat as the night went on.
RW: Lionel Messi – 7/10 – Played with a vengeance on his return from injury, but just couldn’t quite find his range.
ST: Kylian Mbappe – 7/10 – Left his shooting boots at home. Found Neymar well to grab his assist.
LW: Neymar – 8/10 – A really positive performance. Picked passes well, countered explosively and fired PSG ahead with a well-taken goal. Joyous in full stride.
SUB: Nordi Mukiele (24′ for Pereira) – 6/10 – Skinned upon his hurried introduction to the game but got away with it.
SUB: Pablo Sarabia (79′ for Messi) – N/A
SUB: Carlos Soler (88′ for Neymar) – N/A
Manager: Christophe Galtier – 7/10 – His side still looked ruthless in attack despite the drama surrounding Mbappe, and kept Marseille out at the other end. Forced into a change of shape and lost Pereira early on, but still put together a convincing – and winning – display.
2. Marseille (3-5-1-1)
GK: Pau Lopez (8); CB: Chancel Mbemba (7), CB: Eric Bailly (4), CB: Leonardo Balerdi (6); RWB: Jonathan Clauss (5), CM: Valentin Rongier (7), CM: Jordan Veretout (5), CM: Matteo Guendouzi (6), LWB: Nuno Tavares (7); CF: Amine Harit (6); ST: Alexis Sanchez (4)
Subs: Samuel Gigot (2), Issa Kabore (5), Cengiz Under (6), Bamba Dieng (N/A), Pape Gueye (N/A)
Manager: Igor Tudor – 6/10