Lionel Messi, Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria stood out as Paris Saint-Germain eked out a hard-fought 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
In typical Ligue 1 fashion, the game was a chaotic affair, pretty much from the get-go. Paris Saint-Germain thought they had grabbed the lead inside the first five minutes when Neymar tapped the ball into an open net after receiving it from Lionel Messi. However, upon a check from VAR, it was clear that the Brazilian was well offside.
Saint-Etienne then took the game to their visitors, and one of their forward forays, Claude Puel’s men broke the deadlock through Denis Bouanga, although the goal was initially ruled out for offside by the linesman. The 27-year-old scored from close range after an initial effort from Timothee Kolodziejczak was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
PSG gradually grew in the game, only to be denied several times by Etienne Green. However, Les Parisiens’ comeback hopes were handed a major boost, as Kolodziejczak was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Kylian Mbappe. Messi stepped up for the resulting free-kick, sending it into the Saint-Etienne box, where Marquinhos was available to nod the ball into the goal to make it 1-1 going into half-time.
Post the break, Saint-Etienne managed to take the game to PSG despite being a man down. At the opposite end, PSG had several chances to find the back of the net but somehow could not make them count until the 79th minute when Angel Di Maria scored from close range after getting a pass from Messi. The most notable moment of the match occurred shortly after, though, as Neymar was stretchered off aster sustaining an agonising ankle injury.
Victory in Saint-Étienne! ✅
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) November 28, 2021
The win was rounded off in injury time, as Messi completed a hat-trick of assists by crossing the ball for Marquinhos to head in for his brace. Ultimately, a tough week ended with a hard-fought win for PSG, who have extended their lead atop Ligue 1 to 14 points following OGC Nice’s defeat to Metz. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 6/10
Handed a place in goal in the absence of Keylor Navas, Donnarumma would have relished the chance to make an impression. However, his tame attempt to save Timothee Kolodziejczak’s initial shot rebounded towards Denis Bouanga for the Saint-Etienne goal. He was not troubled too much otherwise, and he completed each of his attempted passes with ease.
Achraf Hakimi: 6/10
It was a difficult outing for Hakimi, who often left a lot of space wide open behind him, which was duly exploited by Saint-Etienne, and Bouanga, in particular. However, going forward, the Moroccan full-back was in fine form and linked up smartly with Angel Di Maria.
Marquinhos was as Marquinhos usually is at the back. The PSG captain was solid in his defensive output, winning five duels while completing three clearances. More importantly, he popped up in the right place at the right time to head in two goals from Lionel Messi’s pinpoint deliveries, effectively sealing all three points for his side.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
Welcome back, Sergio Ramos 👏
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 28, 2021
After months of despair, Ramos finally made his PSG debut. Unsurprisingly yet understandably, though, the veteran centre-back was not in full swing. Ramos was at fault for playing Bouanga onside in the build-up to the Saint-Etienne goal. However, as the game progressed, he found his feet and shut up shop nicely, even charging up the pitch to close down the spaces. A decent start.
Juan Bernat: 7/10
Preferred over Nuno Mendes on the left side of the PSG defence, Bernat was in his element on Sunday. The Spaniard has been slow off the blocks since returning from a long-term injury, but this was a step in the right direction, as he linked up well with Neymar and even released the Brazilian smartly in the first half. He did not have a lot to do in the defensive phases, though.
Danilo Pereira: 7/10
Danilo has often been criticised for leaving PSG with a soft underbelly in the middle of the park. However, on Sunday, the Portuguese international was on song, completing each of his attempted passes while also winning all of the ground duels he contested. Job well done.
Idrissa Gueye: 7/10
Gueye continues to be a class apart in the PSG midfield, and on Sunday, he played a key role in ensuring Saint-Etienne had no way through from the central areas. The Senegalese midfielder completed all but four of his attempted passes while winning seven duels. In addition, he also played three key passes in a superb all-round showing.
Angel Di Maria: 9/10
It was a solid display by Di Maria, who continues to be a consistent performer for PSG. In the first half, the Argentine was by far the best performer for his side as they slowly grew into the proceedings. His efforts were rewarded with a goal late in the game after receiving a superb pass from Messi.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
Lionel Messi is the first player to provide a hat-trick of assists in a single Ligue 1 game this season.
🅰️ Marquinhos (45+2')
🅰️ Di María (79')
🅰️ Marquinhos (90+1')
He assisted every PSG goal. ✨ pic.twitter.com/MBOViAcYND
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 28, 2021
Messi has not had the best of starts to life at PSG and has blown hot and cold at an alarming rate. However, Sunday’s performance will give Pochettino, and PSG fans cause for optimism. The game started slowly for Messi, but he made definitive improvements towards the end of the first half.
Messi’s indirect free-kick was converted by Marquinhos for his first, with the PSG captain also nodding in a late goal from a pinpoint cross by the Argentine wizard. The cherry on top was Messi’s pass towards Angel Di Maria for the game’s second goal, which was the stuff of delights.
Neymar started the game strongly and thought he had scored early on, only to be denied by VAR as he was offside. After that, he did not get too many opportunities to score while the Saint-Etienne defenders constantly targeted him with crunching tackles. His game ended in agony as he suffered a gruesome-looking ankle injury that forced him to be stretchered off the pitch.
📸 – Horrible, horrible injury for Neymar…. oh God… pic.twitter.com/UjjT0oCZuv
— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) November 28, 2021
Kylian Mbappe: 6/10
It was a frustrating afternoon for Kylian Mbappe, as it did not click at all for him. While the young Frenchman showed his impeccable movement with aplomb, his end product left a fair bit to be desired, although Etienne Green also made a couple of brilliant saves to deny him. One of those days.
Leandro Paredes: N/A
On for Gueye, Paredes helped see the game out without much of a fuss.
Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe: N/A
A late introduction in place of the injured Neymar, Dina Ebimbe hardly saw the ball in the dying embers of the game.