Defending champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) traveled to the Groupama Stadium for their Ligue 1 gameweek eight clash against Olympique Lyon on Sunday night (September 18). The visitors were made to work hard but ultimately came away with three points, with Lionel Messi scoring the only goal of the match.
Courtesy of their hard-fought 1-0 win and second-placed Marseille’s 1-1 draw with Rennes, PSG now find themselves at the top of the Ligue 1 table with 22 points. They have a two-point lead over second-placed Marseille.
PSG, unbeaten in their last 16 Ligue 1 games, started the match on the front foot. It only took them five minutes to find the back of Lyon’s net. Neymar teed up his former Barcelona teammate Messi with a return pass, and the Argentine made no mistake applying the finish.
Five minutes later, the Parisians once again pushed forward, with Neymar finding Messi with a cross inside the box. The former Barca skipper went for goal but his effort was blocked by Thiago Mendes. Fabian Ruiz latched on to the rebound, but Nicolas Tagliafico put in a vital block to deflect it over the crossbar.
In the 15th minute, Kylian Mbappe got the opportunity to double the Parisians’ lead. But his low effort was tame and was comfortably parried away by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. Seven minutes later, Lyon registered their first shot on target. Toko Ekambi found himself in space inside the box and decided to go for goal. PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was alert and collected the shot without any fuss.
Two minutes before the half-time whistle, Neymar collected Nuno Mendes’ pass, cut inside, and had a go at goal from the edge of the box. He hit the ball well, but Lopes ultimately managed to tip his effort away.
In the 70th and 72nd minutes, the visitors came close to adding to their tally, but Lopes performed a couple of vital actions to deny the league leaders. He first parried away Mendes’ cross before saving Neymar’s low shot. Six minutes later, Messi went for goal with a low drive, and Lopes had to fully stretch to tip it wide of the post.
In added time, Messi went for goal with a curling free kick. Lopes acrobatically denied the Argentine by tipping the ball onto the post. Danilo Pereira got on the end of the rebound and headed it across for Sergio Ramos. The Spaniard found the back of the net, but the flag went up for offside.
It was not a commanding display by the Parisians by any means, with a few of their stars firing way below their potential. However, thanks to the perseverance of others, they managed to nick maximum points. Here are three players who impressed and two who underperformed in PSG’s win over Lyon on Sunday.
Performed: Sergio Ramos
Former Real Madrid man Sergio Ramos has been ever-present under Christophe Galtier this season, playing all 11 games. He is seemingly fitter than ever and has been popping up with important displays every single week. Against Lyon, the center-back rarely put a foot wrong, doing all he can to make Lyon attackers miserable. His distribution was brilliant, he read the danger effortlessly, and was almost unshakeable in duels.
On Sunday, Ramos made two clearances, attempted three tackles, made an interception, and won seven of nine duels. He also accurately delivered a long ball and ended the game with 94.2% passing accuracy (98 passes completed).
Underperformed: Achraf Hakimi
PSG right wingback Achraf Hakimi had a game to forget against Lyon. He struggled to create openings for his teammates, lost possession on quite a few occasions, and often struggled to hold his ground.
Against Lyon, Hakimi neither attempted a shot nor played a key pass, lost five of 10 ground duels, ceded possession 11 times, and misplaced the only long ball he attempted.
PSG ace Neymar once again produced an impressive display for the Parisians on Sunday night. The Brazilian created chances, had a couple of attempts on target, and played Messi through with a clever return pass for his opening goal in the fifth minute.
On Ligue 1 matchday eight, Neymar made three key passes, delivered two accurate long balls, won seven ground duels, and drew a whopping four fouls. The former Barcelona winger also attempted two tackles, winning one, and had four recoveries.
Underperformed: Kylian Mbappe
PSG’s crown jewel Kylian Mbappe was below his best on Sunday night. He made a few darting runs, but he rarely threatened the Lyon defense with his creativity or shooting ability. His decision-making was also less than inspired, as he often failed to pick out his teammates in better positions.
Against Lyon, Mbappe had only one shot on target, lost five ground duels (of 13), ceded possession 15 times, and was caught offside twice.
Performed: Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi was the undisputed star of the show on Sunday night. In the fifth minute, Messi drew defenders towards him, passed to Neymar, got a return pass, and applied a sumptuous finish to find the bottom corner.
He could have very well doubled his tally had Castello Lukeba not cleared his chipped effort off the goal line in the 46th minute. Messi also struck a peachy free kick in injury time, which struck the post after being tipped by the goalkeeper.
In gameweek eight, Messi also made two key passes, completed five dribbles, delivered three accurate long balls (3 attempts), and won eight of 11 ground duels. He also drew two fouls and attempted a tackle.