He had to win, and convince. Despite Georginio Wijnaldum’s double, Paris Saint-Germain was joined in the last minutes by RB Leipzig (2-2), Wednesday in the Champions League, in Germany, a logical draw which highlighted its recurring difficulties in the game Eight points, no defeat, and second place in Group A, with four units ahead of its pursuer Bruges: after four days, the balance sheet of PSG remains in the green.
Before going to challenge the leader Manchester City (9 pts) on November 24, the Parisians remain in the nails to qualify for the round of 16, the first step towards their ambition to win the competition. But at the Red Bull Arena, without Lionel Messi, injured in a thigh and a knee, they did not show a face of a contender for the throne, when they had come to win it with the manner.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s late penalty (90th), after a fault by Presnel Kimpembe, punished the ineffectiveness in the second half of Wijnaldum’s teammates, whose double (21st, 40th) should have allowed his team to win.
At half-time, Mauricio Pochettino’s men had the situation in hand, even though they had come close to disaster from the start, after the opening scoring of Christopher Nkunku (8th). Two minutes later, André Silva took the penalty for the 2-0. But Gianluigi Donnarumma’s decisive stop was a reminder that Paris had enough talent to travel anywhere, even with excessively heavy suitcases.
PSG, “it’s not just a player,” RBL coach Jesse Marsch recalled on Tuesday, when asked about Messi’s package. And it is not either that Neymar, Angel Di Maria, or Kylian Mbappé, who did not shine. In Leipzig, Wijnaldum took over, with a double (21st, 40th) on two of the rare Parisian occasions of the first period.
Wijnaldum’s first goals
These are the first goals of the Dutchman, who arrived this summer, in his new colors. The winner of the C1 with Liverpool in 2019 showed the way, but he was not followed. Mbappé benefited from three big chances (45th + 1, 52nd, 64th), including two duels with goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, which he wasted. His lack of realism left his team uncovered of a return of the Germans …
From the first seconds, PSG played as they often did at the start of the season, that is to say in a puzzling way, which gives as many reasons to be optimistic as pessimistic. The toughest analysis would insist on the first quarter of an hour, which was missed in great width. Stifled by the German pressing, Paris suffered, without being able to cross the center line.
The opening scoring by Nkunku, headed after a cross from Silva, came after a misunderstanding between Di Maria and Achraf Hakimi. The native striker of Seine-et-Marne, trained at PSG, did not celebrate his goal, out of respect to his former club. The audience roared in his place. Two minutes later, he fell into euphoria when Swedish referee Andreas Ekberg pointed to the penalty spot after Danilo fouled Silva.
Not yet really convincing
The Portuguese striker wanted to do justice himself. But Donnarumma stopped his attempt on the ground. From this decisive action begins the other analysis: that of a Parisian team that bends without ever breaking. Better, who is able to hit hard when the pressure on her is released.
In its last three victories, PSG have been led before returning to the front, the last time against Lille (2-1) on Friday, with a goal in the 88th minute from Di Maria. In Germany, the scenario was faster to settle, thanks to the realism of Wijnaldum who materialized the first two chances of the PSG.
First at the conclusion of a combination between Di Maria, Neymar and Mbappé, the Frenchman making his fifth assist in the competition this season. The Dutchman’s cry of relief after the equalizer could very well have been that of his teammates who, finally, had passed the storm.
He repeated his celebration in the 40th, after the 2-1 header, confirmed by video assistance to the referee. A set piece, the VAR … The operating mode is minimalist, but it perfectly embodies this PSG, which rhymes excellent results with insufficient performance.
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