Champions League hangover? PSG lose to Nantes as Neymar misses penalty spectacularly
Paris Saint-Germain came back to earth on Saturday with a 3-1 defeat against FC Nantes in Ligue 1 just days after beating Real Madrid 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men trailed 3-0 at half-time to goals from Randal Kolo Muani, Quentin Merlin and Ludovic Blas before Neymar pulled one back early in the second half for PSG. The Brazilian superstar also saw a spectacularly weak penalty saved by Alban Lafont at the Stade de la Beaujoire which cut short Parisian hopes of a comeback.
Pochettino’s starting XI featured Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Marco Verratti, but the visitors found themselves trailing 1-0 in the opening five minutes with Muani brilliantly combining with Moses Simon for the opener.
The magical arrival of Merlin on an assist from Osman Bukari doubled the lead of the Canaries just after the quarter of an hour of play to the delight of the former player and coach of PSG Antoine Kombouare, and Ludovic Blas made no mistakes from the spot after a handball from Georginio Wijnaldum before the break.
“We didn’t defend well on the counterattacks,” admitted Verratti after the match. “We conceded three almost identical goals. Their goalkeeper also saved a penalty and made some great saves – we created plenty of chances. We deserved to fight back, and the penalty could have changed things. We’re not happy .”
Referee Mikael Lesage played a part in multiple controversies during the encounter, including a Dennis Appiah red card which was reduced to a yellow with the use of VAR and he awarded PSG a penalty on the hour mark. after Neymar had already reduced the deficit after being sucked off by Messi.
The Brazilian produced a pathetic effort which Alban Lafont easily saved, and it was the end of the scoreline with Nantes trailing 3-1 winners to boost their European hopes without doing much harm to PSG’s title march.
“We can’t even talk to the referee,” Verratti fumed about Lesage. “We can’t do anything. He’s the only referee in the world who could do things like that. The penalty was a second yellow so red. That’s where the referees have to take responsibility. We got dropped here .”
In the end, however, Kombouaré and his Nantes side were not unworthy winners and PSG again produced a disappointing performance following a big Champions League clash – something the Italian felt played no part in the defeat.
“You have to pay tribute to Nantes,” said Verratti. “It has nothing to do with Real because we were physically good. We created chances over the 90 minutes. Now we have to turn to Saint-Etienne.”
Next up for PSG is that clash with Les Verts at the Parc des Princes next weekend with the second leg against Real at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid in early March, which will take on added importance if there are many more results like these.