In lopsided French league, PSG wins without Neymar, Mbappe
PARIS (AP) — Even without stars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain keeps winning in the French league.
PSG extended its victorious streak to 14 matches by beating Toulouse 1-0 on Saturday. At the other end of the table, Thierry Henry got his first win with Monaco as manager.
With Neymar and Mbappe recuperating from injuries and watching from the stands, Edinson Cavani scored PSG’s winner in the 10th minute with a brilliant piece of skill. But Paris looked far from its best without the goal-scoring skills and creativity of its expensive pairing of Mbappe and Neymar.
Coach Thomas Tuchel hopes to get both of them back for the Champions League match on Wednesday against Liverpool. Neymar, with a groin strain, and Mbappe, with a shoulder problem, were injured on international duty.
“It was harder today than usual. Toulouse was very tight at the back,” said PSG captain Thiago Silva, who added that players were tired after playing for their countries. “I hope we can be a bit better on Wednesday.”
PSG nevertheless had more than enough firepower for Toulouse, which has won just three of its 14 league games.
Found with a header from Adrien Rabiot, Cavani used his left foot to juggle the ball past Toulouse defender Kelvin Amian and turned and volleyed the winner with his right foot past goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet.
A modest consolation for Toulouse: It became the first Ligue 1 team to restrict PSG to just one goal this season. Against other French opponents, PSG has always scored at least twice.
Filling in for Mbappe and Neymar, midfielder Julian Draxler moved up the pitch. But the Germany international wasn’t convincing in a more forward role alongside Cavani. Found by a scything pass from Angel Di Maria late in the first half, Draxler failed to bring the ball under control, squandering the one-on-one opportunity against Reynet.
But with the maximum 42 points, 15 more than second-placed Lyon, PSG is making the French league look hopelessly lopsided.
The Champions League, however, is a different story. PSG lost at Liverpool 3-2 in September and drew home and away against Napoli.
The first managerial win Henry so desperately needed with Monaco came courtesy of a sweetly struck free kick from Radamel Falcao. The 1-0 victory at Caen followed four losses and two draws in all competitions since the Arsenal great took over in mid-October from Leonardo Jardim.
Falcao’s goal put a smile on Henry’s face, going over the Caen wall and flat-footing its keeper. Monaco remains in the relegation zone, with 10 points.
In other games, Reims beat Guingamp 2-1, and Nimes beat mid-table Strasbourg 1-0. Nantes and Angers drew 1-1 and Bordeaux was held to a scoreless draw by Dijon.