Neymar leads PSG to ‘classic’ win over Marseille – Winnipeg Free Press
PARIS (AP) — Neymar scored his ninth French league goal this season to guide Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-0 victory over bitter rivals Marseille in the biggest game in French football on Sunday.
Still undefeated this season, PSG signed their ninth victory in 11 league matches to move three points ahead of Lorient at the top of the standings. Marseille fell to a second consecutive defeat and dropped to fourth place, six points behind PSG.
Only Lille striker Jonathan David has scored as many goals as Neymar in the French league this season. Neymar also provided seven assists.
The Brazilian striker broke the deadlock in added time of the first half at the conclusion of a counterattack.
Back from injury, Lionel Messi hit the crossbar and combined well with Neymar and Kylian Mbappé throughout the game with the ‘MNM’ combination creating plenty of chances at the break in a lively game at the Parc des Princes.
Marseille were well organized and continued to press even after being reduced to 10 players in the 73rd minute when Samuel Gigot was sent off for a late tackle on Neymar.
PSG could have won by a bigger margin but Marseille goalkeeper Pau Lopez made eight saves to keep his side in the game.
Known as ‘Le Classique’, the match between PSG and Marseille became popular in the 1990s when the arrival in the French league of stars such as Rudi Voeller and George Weah sparked a fierce rivalry.
But Marseille, the only French team to win the Champions League in 1993, has fallen behind since the takeover of PSG by Qatari investors in 2011.
The southern French club are, however, enjoying a strong revival under coach Igor Tudor and were hoping for their first victory against PSG in two years.
The game started off at a high pace with PSG immediately taking control.
Messi tested Lopez twice, before Achraf Hakimi lost his one-on-one with the Marseille goalkeeper. Lopez was again decisive in the 19th minute to deny a low shot from Mbappé with a diving save on his right side.
In the 28th, Neymar found Mbappé behind the defence, the World Cup winner forcing Lopez to parry the ball with a firm left hand.
PSG kept pushing and were rewarded with a free kick on the edge of the box after Messi was knocked down. The ex-Barcelona player took the free-kick and fired at the crossbar. Lopez did not move.
Marseille waited for overtures and stuck to their game plan with high pressing. He finally cracked on the stroke of half-time when Amine Harit gave up the ball in his own half. Vitinha launched a quick counterattack, Mbappé finding Neymar at the penalty spot. The Brazilian striker slid the ball over the post.
Marseille fought hard to equalise, with fine efforts from Chancel Mbemba and Jonathan Clauss which were denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
NO WHITE EFFECT
Laurent Blanc failed to turn around Lyon’s situation in his first game in charge.
The former Bordeaux and PSG coach was appointed as Peter Bosz’s replacement last week with the mission of getting the seven-time champions back on track.
His arrival did not produce an immediate effect, however, and Lyon lost 3-2 at Rennes to extend their current winless streak to six matches.
Lyon have started the season with big ambitions, aiming for Champions League qualification, but have only won four of 11 league games so far.
Striker Alexandre Lacazette scored twice for Lyon, but his brace was not enough to compensate for the team’s defensive weaknesses.
“When you concede three goals you have to score four, that’s too much,” Blanc said. “And my players didn’t return to the pitch focused enough after half-time, so I’m quite upset.”
Rennes winger Martin Terrier also scored twice against his former club, taking his season tally to seven goals. His fine header from an Adrien Truffert cross in the 77th minute capped his team’s sixth victory this season. Amine Gouiri scored Renne’s other goal.
Blanc, 56, enjoyed success in his previous spells in charge of French clubs, winning the league title in 2009 with Bordeaux when he ended Lyon’s long reign and then three times in charge of PSG from 2014 to 16.
Elsewhere, Nantes came out of the relegation zone with a 4-1 thrashing of bottom-placed Brest and Toulouse beat Angers 3-2. Ajaccio drew 1-1 at Troyes and Auxerre were held 1-1 at home by Nice.
Quickly reduced to 10 against Clermont at home, Monaco broke the deadlock thanks to a penalty converted by Breel Embolo half an hour into the game but could not maintain their lead. Komnen Andric leveled the score in the second half of the 1-1 draw.
On Saturday, second-placed Lorient missed the chance to top the league after drawing with Reims 10 0-0 at home.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports