A 5-0 score-line and four-goal tally for Kylian Mbappe saw PSG as the true kings of Lyon…but was this bad news for the French game
1) Four in 13, but it could have been six in 20
The headlines obviously go to Kylian Mbappé for scoring four goals in 13 minutes. Yet it could easily have been six in 20. The 19-year-old missed two clear chances in the seven minutes before he opened his personal account for the evening, hitting a post and then delaying too long and allowing OL keeper Anthony Lopes to smother the ball at his feet.
“I should have scored more goals, but these are the barriers I have to break through if I’m to get to the highest level,” he said afterwards. God help the rest of Ligue 1 when he does.
2) No brains, but plenty of entertainment
Mbappé aside the quality was poor, but the sheer brainlessness of the football produced by Ligue 1’s top two sides made it entertaining. The tone was set when Lopes wiped Mbappé out in the ninth minute with a challenge of NFL-level subtlety that gifted Neymar the opening penalty. It continued when Presnel Kimpbepe went over the ball and landed his studs in Tanguy Ndombele’s shins, earning a straight red card after a VAR review.
PSG could have been reduced to nine when Neymar almost immediately kicked Jérémy Morel on the ankle with a tackle so late it was almost posthumous. Angel Di Maria kicked Memphis Depay and escaped a card, as did Mbappé who could have been booked for simulation. At 1-0 and against ten men Lyon were a decent bet for at least a draw, but moments before half-time Lucas Tousart, already on a yellow, clattered Mbappé and was sent off.
3) PSG rode their luck
The 5-0 scoreline implies a rout but in reality the game was in the balance for an hour. OL lost their most likely goal threat when Nabil Fekir limped off at 0-0. At 1-0 in the first half Jason Denayer had a free header in the area and somehow managed to steer the ball 90 degrees in the wrong direction.
Early in the second period Maxwell Cornet produced a gruesome effort that went straight at Gianluigi Buffon and Cornet then nearly equalised by accident when a Thiago Silva clearance deflected off his leg and hit the post.
4) The spectre of the “ogre”
The last time OL won a league game in the Parc des Princes was way back in October 2007, a match PSG fans turned up to watch fully expecting they’d lose. Lyon were the “ogre” of French Football and on their way to a seventh consecutive title.
A 20-year-old Hatem Ben Arfa scored twice just before half-time to make it 2-0 to OL at the break. PSG’s Pedro Pauleta pulled one back just after the hour mark but Sydney Govou made it 3-1 with six minutes left, rendering Pauleta’s second, in stoppage time, academic.
The reaction to the defeat was instructive. PSG keeper Mickaël Landreau said: “We’re disappointed to have lost (but) we were playing a great team, with an exceptional attacking force and we’re not yet at their level.”
5) A one-party state?
Back in 2007 it seemed OL’s dominance would never end. In the decade that followed Olympique Marseilles’ implosion for match-fixing in 1991-92 the French Championship had been one of the most open and interesting in Europe. Nine different sides had won the title. Only AS Monaco won more than once and teams like Nantes, Auxerre and Lens were all crowned champions.
When OL won their first ever title in 2001-02 it was nearly as big a novelty, but their domination turned the French league into a one-party state. Titles were won by as many as 17 points, without ever getting further than the semi-finals of any European competition. PSG now risk getting stuck in the same, empty No Man’s Land.