PSG 1-0 Marseille: Player ratings as Neymar secures victory in Le Classique
By Mitch Wilks
Paris Saint-Germain maintained their unbeaten start to the Ligue 1 season with a 1-0 victory over Marseille in Le Classique.
They wasted no time in peppering the visitors' goal from the first whistle, but were pegged back by Igor Tudor's side in a well contested affair. Both sides had chances to take the lead, but it was Neymar who made his effort count on the cusp of the half-time whistle for 1-0.
Marseille recovered well after the break, but couldn't find a way through PSG's disciplined defence and lost any attacking thrust they had left when forced to play the remaining 20 minutes with 10 men. Christophe Galtier's side coped well in a rare, enforced switch to a back four to secure all three points.
Lionel Messi wasted no time in getting down to business on his return, forcing Pau Lopez into two low saves inside the opening five minutes, before Achraf Hakimi's effort brought a third out of the stopper shortly after.
After a shaky start, Marseille recovered well and began to carve out chances of their own, but again it was PSG who nearly drew ahead, Neymar driving them forward on the counter attack and slipping through Kylian Mbappe, who forced a fourth save out of Lopez.
Suddenly, the first half was becoming a personal highlight reel for the Marseille stopper, who was again called into action to acrobatically tip over a deflected effort to keep out the hosts.
And if it wasn't Lopez, it was the crossbar to deny PSG. Messi fired an almost perfect free-kick towards goal after 35 minutes, but the ball rattled the underside of the crossbar and bounced away from the net.
Just as Marseille edged towards the break thinking they'd held the hosts, all of their hard work was undone. Dispossessed in their own half by Marco Verratti, Mbappe slotted through Neymar who made it 1-0 to close out an end-to-end first half.
Shooting themselves in the foot certainly didn't deter Marseille, who put the hosts under mounds of pressure in the early stages of the second half. Chancel Mbemba bombed forward time after time but just couldn't get a clear sight at goal, despite Marseille's efforts to keep PSG pinned into their own half.
Their bright spell faded, though, as Marseille looked toothless while on top, allowing PSG to sit in tight and slowly stamp their authority back on 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 were clearly fatigued in the closing stages, allowing PSG to cruise to victory and re-establish a three point lead atop 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