Neymar was the difference maker as Paris Saint-Germain made hard work of defeating Brest at the Parc des Princes.

Defending Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain dominated proceedings but did not have their shooting boots on in a hard-fought 1-0 win over Brest at the Parc des Princes. The win sees Christophe Galtier’s side maintain a two-point lead at the top of the league standings after seven games played.

The front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe impressed and had several opportunities to run away with the game. But sans an expertly finished chance from Neymar at the half-hour mark, the trio showcased their profligacy in front of the goal.

Brest came into the game as underdogs and were only too willing to cede possession of the football for large sections of the game. However, the visitors had their moments and on another day could have come away with at least a point. Thankfully for Galtier and co, Gianluigi Donnarumma did not let his guard down and ensured that things at his end stayed pitch perfect. The Italian also proved his worth, saving a second-half penalty to save his side’s blushes.

In the end, the home side’s perseverance won over Brest’s resilience, gaining them all three points. PSG can now go into midweek’s UEFA Champions League game knowing full well that they have now added bottle to their overwhelming ability to blow opposition defences away. It certainly augurs well for a side that has been desperate to translate its domestic dominance to continental glory.

The Hard Tackle looks at how the PSG players fared on the night.

Gianluigi Donnarumma: 8/10

The Italian ace certainly earned his money on the night with a performance that exuded confidence between the sticks. He made a smart save from Franck Honorat in the first half before reacting well to Islam Slimani’s spot kick after the break. The performance will certainly boost Donnarumma’s confidence with tougher games yet to come.

Sergio Ramos: 7/10

The veteran was the senior figure in the backline and marshalled his teammates well. He did not let Slimani get the better of him and made use of good positioning to avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Danilo Pereira: 7/10

The veteran did well after coming in for Marquinhos and did not do much wrong. He earned himself a yellow card late for a foul on Mathias Pereira Lage as Brest pushed forward in search of an equaliser. It is clear why PSG let Abdou Diallo leave in the summer as they have an excellent defender in reserve in Pereira.

Presnel Kimpembe: 6/10

The Frenchman had a rather comfortable evening until he went on to concede a penalty out of nowhere in the second half. Thankfully for him, Donnarumma rose to the occasion, sparing his blushes. Kimpembe also exited the game prematurely in stoppage time, leaving his side down to 10 men for the final few minutes. PSG will hope that the defender’s injury is nothing serious.

Achraf Hakimi: 6/10

It was not the right-back’s best game, and he failed to make anything happen with his forward forays. Kylian Mbappe was certainly not amused by his teammate’s delivery and made a pointer to remind him of it at half-time. However, it did little to improve matters, and while Hakimi did enough defensively, his attacking nous was absent.

Vitinha: 6/10

The summer signing has been ever-present in the PSG XI since his arrival and Galtier once again went with him on the night. The Portuguese midfielder does appear to have lost some of his zeal since the injury scare against Nantes, and lacked the usual dynamism. He linked up well with Verratti and did not put a foot out of line either. Vitinha made way for Marquinhos in the 87th minute as PSG sought to shut up shop at the back.

Marco Verratti: 7/10

The Italian international is PSG’s engine in the middle of the park and once again ran the show. Galtier’s true test will come when he is forced to rest the midfielder, having to rely on less assertive options instead.

Verratti linked up well, especially with Neymar and made a few dangerous passes upfield. He was taken off for debutant Fabian Ruiz after the hour mark, perhaps with an eye on the midweek clash vs Maccabi Haifa.

Juan Bernat: 6/10

The Spaniard, to his credit, got forward with ease and crafted some goalscoring opportunities for his peers. However, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe both contrived to miss after Bernat squared the ball to them in the box. He was taken off in the second half for Nuno Mendes.

Lionel Messi: 8/10

The Argentine legend dictated the pace of PSG’s attack and was a handful for the Brest defenders to handle. Messi linked up well with Neymar and Mbappe and had several opportunities to score himself. He provided the exquisite overhead ball for Neymar’s winner and also hit the bar with a header. Messi petered off in the second half, but on another day, he could have easily grabbed himself a goal or more.

Neymar: 8/10

The Brazilian continues to revisit the understanding he built up with Messi while at Barcelona, and the duo will take some stopping. He cushioned Messi’s pass perfectly before firing his side forward at the half-hour mark. Neymar is also starting to work hard without the ball and is nigh on undroppable for PSG at this moment in time. In perhaps a tribute to being called up for Brazil, he earned himself a yellow card for a rather needless tackle on Pierre Lees-Melou.

Kylian Mbappe: 5/10

The Frenchman got into some good positions but was uncharacteristically wasteful when presented with goalscoring opportunities. It was pretty ironic that he gave Hakimi a talking to while his own end product was lacking. A pretty mediocre outing given his standards and expectations of others.


Fabian Ruiz: 6/10

The Spaniard replaced Verratti in the 62nd minute and kept things simple. He lacks the Italian’s skill set and did not thankfully try to replicate the same style of play. Ruiz will get more opportunities to impress, but this was a decent first game at the Parc des Princes indeed.

Pablo Sarabia: 6/10

The Argentine replaced Neymar in the 77th minute but never quite got going. Brest pushed for an equaliser as PSG held firm, meaning the home side made few forays forward and instead chose to absorb the pressure.

Nuno Mendes: 6/10

The youngster replaced Bernat in the 78th minute and immediately went on to earn himself a yellow card for his troubles.

Hugo Ekitike: 6/10

The youngster replaced the underwhelming Mbappe in the 78th minute but experienced little joy. He was largely invisible on the night.

Marquinhos: 6/10

A late cameo by the Brazilian who almost scored with a thumping header. His presence also helped PSG adapt to Kimpembe’s premature withdrawal.

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