Given the disarray off the pitch in Marseille, there was no doubt that PSG had the clear upper hand in the 106th match of the Classique. After bouncing back from last week’s home defeat to Nice when they travel to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, the champions were now looking to confirm their return to form.
A ruthless display against their arch-rivals – anchored by the all-conquering midfield duo of Manuel Ugarte and Warren Zïre-Emery – secured the result for Luis Enrique’s reign so far.
Interim coach Pancho Abardonado’s five-man defense kept the visitors somewhat at bay in the first half – Marseille’s defense could hardly do much with two goals conceded. Achraf Hakimi struck first with a free kick from close range into the top corner to give the visitors the lead after 8 minutes.
Randal Kolo Muani then duly opened his PSG account when presented with an open goal opportunity – the Moroccan full-back was again the catalyst, his long-range effort hitting the post before deflecting off an unsuspecting López before falling into the striker’s path. Kylian Mbappé limped off soon after – the ankle problem he had at the start of the match is said to have not gone away. He was replaced by Gonçalo Ramos, fresh from an encouraging performance in the Champions League but still without a goal for PSG.
The champions put any doubts about the result to rest immediately after the break and continued their evening of dominance as Dembélé’s whipped cross was headed by Ramos into the bottom corner. A much-needed confidence boost for the newly arrived Portuguese striker – and it was the winger’s first goal contribution since joining from Barcelona.
Abardonado’s men hardly threatened from then on – in fact they failed to get a single shot on target all game. PSG gave the ball away high up the pitch several times and sabotaged their counter-attacks with confused passing and a lack of understanding. However, the home side scored with a move of their own in stoppage time late in the game, Ramos beating López for the second time after Kolo Muani’s right-wing finish.
In the case of Marseille, the tumult behind the scenes has now spilled over onto the pitch. With no discernible leaders on the pitch and the club’s overall project currently unclear, it’s hard to see this season as anything other than a write-off for OM. Next week’s trip to Monaco could prove to be another challenging evening.
While Mbappé’s injury may ultimately overshadow the result somewhat, PSG’s attacking prowess even without the league’s top scorer will be a major source of encouragement. The champions are now in third place, two points behind leader Brest (!).