Kylian Mbappe scored a late winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Brest 2-1 in Ligue on Saturday, but their performance was not an emphatic response to UEFA Champions League elimination.
PSG appeared to be limping to a 1-1 draw at Stade Francis-Le Ble, which would have been a major disappointment after defeat to Bayern Munich, if only Mbappe had stepped up and spared himself the blush.
Carlos Soler put PSG in front late in the first half, but Brest arguably played the better football and were good value for Franck Honorato’s excellent equaliser.
A commendable point appeared to be Brest’s reward for a spirited display, although Lionel Messi and Mbappe combined in the 90th minute to give PSG 11 points.
PSG quickly gained control and almost took an early lead.
Despite a comical aerial kick, Messi managed to nudge the ball to Soler as he stumbled and the Spaniard saw his effort deflected onto Marco Bizot’s post.
Bizot was unable to deny Soler in the 37th minute, but the midfielder, who smashed home Mbappe’s long-range strike, was deflected.
But PSG were soon pegged back.
The lively Honorat fended off Romain Del Castillo’s sublime ball and parried Sergio Ramos and Timothee Pembele before finishing emphatically past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Honorat turned provider 10 minutes after half-time, but Lilian Brassier’s wayward header failed to pinpoint the delivery.
PSG’s desperation soon began to produce chances. Bizot pushed Messi’s curler wide, while Mbappe spurned two chances.
However, the two later combined to seal the points.
Mbappe broke the offside trap to collect Messi’s pass and slot home after rounding a helpless Bizot.
PSG player ratings (4-3-1-2)
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 5/10 – Another game without a clean sheet for Donnarumma. Time to start asking questions.
RB: Timothee Pembele – 4/10 – Played too advanced for somebody with his limited pace. Couldn’t handle Honorat for the equaliser and was targeted all game long.
CB: Danilo Pereira – 6/10 – Largely comfortable but didn’t get a lot of help from those around him.
CB: Sergio Ramos – 5/10 – His limited athleticism was made obvious here. Couldn’t keep up with Honorat.
LB: Nuno Mendes – 7/10 – After a tricky first half, Mendes ran the show after the break. Probably the most dangerous attacker and Galtier responded by pushing him even further forward late on.
CM: Marco Verratti – 5/10 – Couldn’t keep up with Brest’s midfield whatsoever. Looked a little isolated at times.
CM: Warren Zaire-Emery – 6/10 – His energy set him apart from the rest of PSG’s midfield, although the youngster didn’t offer a whole lot more.
CM: Fabian Ruiz – 4/10 – Another poor showing for Fabian. Doesn’t seem to mesh with this team at all.
AM: Carlos Soler – 7/10 – The stand-out in PSG’s midfield. Buzzed around with real energy and deserved his goal.
ST: Lionel Messi – 8/10 – Plenty of dangerous moments and a glorious assist for Mbappe’s winner.
ST: Kylian Mbappe – 6/10 – Somehow avoided a red card for an obvious kick on Belkebla late on, after which he made the difference with a composed finish.
Vitinha (75′ for Fabian) – 5/10
Juan Bernat (75′ for Pembele) – 6/10
Hugo Ekitike (80′ for Soler) – 5/10
Renato Sanches (89′ for Zaire-Emery) – N/A
Christophe Galtier – 4/10 – A zoom from a cheeky camera operator appeared to show a notebook with very few tactical notes. Regardless of whether that screenshot was fair or not, it definitely seemed like it told the truth. Escapes further criticism because of the impact of the current injury crisis.