Neymar-less Paris Saint-Germain dropped points for the first time this Ligue 1 Conforama season, held 0-0 at resolute Montpellier. PSG top the table by a point from champions Monaco.
Kylian Mbappé was PSG’s most dangerous player in the first half, though Montpellier defended stoutly. Their three-man central defence may have had a combined age of 98, featuring the 40-year-old Vitorino Hilton, but they dealt with what the 18-year-old Mbappé, Edinson Cavani and Julian Draxler threw at them.
PSG failed to direct any of their seven first-half attempts on target as they looked to be missing the injured Neymar Jr, though the world’s most expensive player should be back fit for Wednesday’s massive home UEFA Champions League game with Bayern Munich.
PSG did get a couple of dangerous balls into the box and sometimes – as with Ruben Aguilar – Michel Der Zakarian’s Montpellier survived by the skin of their teeth. Unai Emery’s visitors were frustrated but did at last manage a shot on target in the 48th minute as Benjamin Lecomte got down well to deal with an Mbappé effort.
MHSC had beaten PSG in the equivalent fixture last year. With their 5-4-1 formation the accent was firmly on defending well and they ventured forward but rarely, Alphonse Areola called into action in the 53rd minute to save Paul Lasne’s shot.
In the 63rd minute MHSC had a miraculous let-off as Mbappé miscontrolled a gem of a Marco Verratti lobbed pass, allowing the hosts to scramble it behind for a corner. A better final ball three minutes later from Casimir Ninga to Jérome Roussillon and the wing-back would have had a tap-in against the run of play.
Cavani had a penalty appeal for a Pedro Mendes challenge waved away and Lecomte survived a hazardous sortie that almost allowed Mbappé in.
THE PLAYER: Julian Draxler
With Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore absent, the German international was given an opportunity to shine in the PSG 4-3-3. The player of this year’s Confederations Cup failed to seize it and was replaced by Lucas – the Brazilian making his 150th Ligue 1 Conforama appearance – 25 minutes from time.
THE STAT: 1
This was the first time Michel Der Zakarian had claimed a point against Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 Conforama. The former Nantes coach had suffered seven defeats from seven prior to this game.