Neymar absent, PSG lack sting to win
Montpellier put on a spirited and gritty display to hold Paris Saint-Germain to a goalless draw as the French league leader dropped its first points of the season on Saturday.
PSG, which won its previous six league matches but met Montpellier without the injured Neymar, was uninspired throughout and saw its lead over defending champion Monaco cut to just one point. Monaco thrashed Lille 4-0 on Friday.
“We came here to win ahead of Bayern’s visit, it was very important,” said PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, referring to Bayern Munich’s trip to Paris in the Champions League next week. “We need to forget this game.”
Montpellier’s defensive strategy worked well throughout the match and prevented PSG from creating chances. The hosts deliberately left the ball possession to the opposition, and PSG players struggled to adapt to the poor pitch at Stade de La Mosson.
Pressing high on the pitch, the hosts played aggressively and were able to launch fast counterattacks. PSG’s three-man midfield of Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot and Thiago Motta often looked clueless and static.
In the absence of Neymar, who was ruled out with a minor toe injury but is expected to play against Bayern, Kylian Mbappe was the most dangerous PSG player.
The France international had PSG’s first shot at goal in the 47th minute when he forced `keeper Benjamin Lecomte to a good save, and caused problems to Montpellier defenders with his dribbles.
PSG sped up the tempo after the interval and Mbappe had another good chance a few minutes later with a header wide from Thomas Meunier’s cross. Fatigue took hold of the hosts in the final half hour as they gave the ball away too easily, but they managed to weather PSG’s disorganized assaults.
“We are happy with this point, not many teams will be able to achieve this,” Montpellier captain Vitorino Hilton said.
Bordeaux in the mix
Unbeaten this season, Bordeaux moved within four points of PSG and climbed to third place in the standings after defeating Guingamp 3-1. There were goals by François Kamano and substitutes Alexandre Mendy and Jonathan Cafu. Jimmy Briand missed a penalty early. Yannis Salibur equalized for the visitors just after the interval.
Santini’s fine form
Caen forward Ivan Santini, who was called up by Croatia this week for a third straight time, celebrated by scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Amiens. It was Caen’s fourth win in five matches, and Santini’s 18th goal in the French topflight.
Lyon dropping points
Lyon twice relinquished its lead and had to share the points after drawing with Dijon 3-3. Dijon scored three for the first time this season.