Paris Saint-Germain eventually made light work of promoted Ajaccio in a 3-0 victory in Ligue 1 on Friday evening.
Christophe Galtier was pitted against his son Jordan, who works as a coach for Ajaccio. His son’s employers started brightly and did well to unsettle PSG early on. That didn’t last long, though, as PSG took a 1-0 lead into half-time thanks to Kylian Mbappe.
For the amount of chances they spurned, though, there was cause for concern. Les Parisiens were wasteful in front of goal and were only let off the hook through a combination of confident defending and the limitations of Ajaccio. Ultimately, though, they continued to the last whistle and were rewarded for their efforts, with Lionel Messi adding a second and Mbappe finishing the game with a brace.
The hosts did a good job of keeping their visitors at bay in the opening stages, dictating the pace of the game, limiting chances and even venturing forward themselves. Mounaim El Idrissy even fired a shot into the side netting after just five minutes, giving PSG something to worry about.
For all their brave work in playing high up the pitch and doing their best to unsettle PSG, though, Ajaccio were punished after 24 minutes when they were dispossessed in their own half by Messi, who had set through Mbappe to rifle the ball in for 1-0 in the blink of an eye.
Taking the lead significantly settled Christophe Galtier’s side, who were suddenly more confident in possession. Mbappe ought to have put them 2-0 up after half an hour, but he somehow blazed a square ball from Achraf Hakimi over the bar.
It was possible that Mbappe played the first half with his boots on the wrong feet. For all the brilliant runs he made off the shoulder of the defender from the left flank, he should’ve had a hat-trick. After firing over earlier, a poor first touch resulted in another wayward attempt after 42 minutes. That, combined with Fabian Ruiz’s effort curling wide of the post, meant Ajaccio were only behind by one at the break – crucial in keeping alive hopes of a comeback.
There was a relaxed nature around PSG’s performance in possession after the break. While they looked defensively sound, the laidback approach to building attacks and testing Benjamin Leroy in the Ajaccio goal was mildly concerning.
Having said that, Christophe Galtier’s side never looked troubled in possession and were able to carve out chances whenever they did up the tempo and turn on the style. Perhaps the biggest compliment you could give is that they never looked panicked or shaky at the back; an improvement that is testament to the Frenchman.
After a brief break in play for an off-field incident with around 15 minutes to go, PSG doubled their lead in sublime style as Mbappe backheeled a ball through to Messi, who nipped through and rolled the ball away from the goalkeeper, before tapping into an empty net.
That fantastic finish was followed up with another as Messi repaid the favour to Mbappe in the 82nd minute, who made it 3-0 to put the seal on victory in fantastic fashion.
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6/10 – Punching away a cross inside the opening 20 minutes was about as lively as the Italian’s evening got. Finally down to make a save after 71 minutes.
RB: Achraf Hakimi – 7/10 – Improved performance after a wasteful display against Marseille. Hakimi’s touch was sharper, his dribbles were more successful and delivered with more sting.
CB: Nordi Mukiele – 6/10 – Wasn’t challenged all too much, but fulfilled his duties with confidence and composure. Now is his time to stake his claim with Ramos suspended and Danilo Pereira injured.
CB: Marquinhos – 7/10 – Confident as ever on and off the ball, keeping the defence switched on and seeing off rare counter attacks with little trouble.
LB: Juan Bernat – 6/10 – Ajaccio’s best chances seemed to come from the left flank, which was a concern. Got forward well after the break, though, and forced a good save after 47 minutes.
CM: Marco Verratti – 6/10 – Really poor start to the game that saw him booked after several late challenges and complaints directed towards the referee. Picked up his performance though and put in a classy shift.
CM: Renato Sanches – 7/10 – Nerves clearly had too much control of him in the first half, but when the shackles came off, Sanches grew into the game tremendously. A selection of inch perfect flicks and passes around the corner in the second half.
CM: Fabian Ruiz – 7/10 – A confident performance from Ruiz who was more confident in venturing forward tonight. Close to scoring a curled effort on the cusp of half-time.
RW: Lionel Messi – 9/10 – Chief creator. Messi lacked the finesse in his shot and sometimes his final touch, but was constantly finding space as only he can and pinging intricate passes to teammates. Joyous.
ST: Kylian Mbappe – 7/10 – Alert to hold his line and stay onside for the opening goal, which he finished confidently. Spurned so many chances, though. Got to sharpen up in the bigger games; could’ve had a handful tonight.
LW: Carlos Soler – 5/10 – The quietest of the front three. Picked up nice positions here and there, but seemed to struggle with Messi doing the job between the lines that you’d want him to do.
SUB: Vitinha (62′ for Sanches) – 5/10
SUB: Pablo Sarabia (71′ for Soler) – 5/10
SUB: Hugo Ekitike (83′ for Mbappe) – N/A
SUB: Warren Zaire-Emery (83′ for Ruiz) – N/A
Manager: Christophe Galtier – 8/10 – Rotated his XI from a win against Marseille, but the squad maintained the same principles that make them so dangerous. Would advise some extra finishing drills in training on Monday, though.