Rivals

PSG keep the good, the bad & the ugly in check to beat Marseille in Le Classique

Sean Walsh
Neymar opened the scoring
Neymar opened the scoring / John Berry/Getty Images
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Paris Saint-Germain are a club generally associated with chaos at all levels. Le Classique is a rivalry general associated with chaos at all levels.

It should therefore be to PSG's credit that they managed to earn a relatively simple win at home to Marseille in Sunday's meeting between France's premier clubs.

Neymar opened the scoring with a delicious dink over Pau Lopez before Duje Caleta-Car swept home from a terrible Gianluigi Donnarumma error, but Kylian Mbappe's spot kick restored the hosts' lead.

A blood-and-thunder first half looked set to continue when Neymar got into afters with Matteo Guendouzi as the Arsenal loanee appeared to dive to get the Brazilian booked, but from there on in, Mauricio Pochettino's men strangled the life out of the game.

William Saliba had a late equaliser correctly ruled out for offside, but aside from that Jorge Sampaoli's side offered little to no threat, managing just three shots across the 97 minutes played at Parc des Princes.

Pochettino's opposite number tried on several occasions to goad his rivals into their usual childish antics, but for the first time perhaps ever, PSG kept the emotions in check. They were cunning with their dark-art fouling, their slowing of the tempo.

Even commentator Jonathan Pearce noted that the usual eight-man defence in lieu of their luxury forward trio had turned into an eleven-man effort. After carving open Marseille at will in the first 45, Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi dug in deep for the good of the team in the second.

PSG played with a discipline and control that they have scarcely demonstrated before in the QSI era, a maturity that made it impossible for one of Europe's highest-tempo teams to register a couple of shots after one was gifted to them on a silver platter.

Donnarumma's howler was the only blemish on this performance. Neymar just about managed to avoid a second yellow card for dissent amid the Guendouzi incident, but his teammates rallied round and instead of joining him in protest, kept him from running his mouth.

It might be too late for Pochettino to save his job in the long-term, but this was a good sign of progress in his attempts to control a rowdy group of prima donnas, a blueprint for Les Parisiens to follow even after his likely departure.

The bragging rights belong to PSG, and with four more points this season, so will the Ligue 1 title.

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