PSG show character but lack hunger in victory over drained Lyon
Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to narrowly beat Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 on Sunday at Parc des Princes. Javier Pastore was at his inventive best to create Adrien Rabiot and Julian Draxler's goals after Alexandre Lacazette struck first for the tired visitors.
A win is a win. As has often been the case the past few weeks, PSG getting the victory was the most important thing, as they keep the pressure on AS Monaco at the top of Ligue 1. The French champions remain three points behind the leaders but are now four points clear of third-placed OGC Nice.
Character. Unai Emery's men showed grit to fight back from one goal down, and it could have easily been two, but Maxwell was alert enough to keep Lyon at bay shortly after Lacazette's opener. After their recent struggles, Les Parisiens could easily have capitulated.
Pastore. The Argentina international is a magician, and had he been fit all season, PSG's campaign might look a lot different. "El Flaco" was spraying passes around all night and provided two superb assists for both of the hosts' goals.
Poor defending. Lacazette's opener was a soft goal to concede, particularly from Maxwell, though the veteran Brazilian atoned for his early error by denying Lyon a second minutes later.
Not hungry enough. Leading 2-1 at half-time against a drained OL side, PSG should have pushed for more and won by a greater margin. They did not and did not really pose their visitors any questions, either.
7 (out of 10)-- Emery picked a solid starting XI with an excellent midfield, and it was ultimately the combination of Pastore with Rabiot and Marco Verratti that won the match. The players aligned by the Spaniard could and should have beaten Lyon more convincingly.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kevin Trapp, 6 -- The German shot-stopper was beaten before he got his first touch of the ball. He calmed down after that and would have been unlucky to have conceded a penalty when Memphis Depay dived over him in the first half.
DF Serge Aurier, 6 -- The Ivory Coast international responded to a week of criticism post-Lorient with a solid display. The African right-back got involved physically but is capable of doing more going forward.
DF Marquinhos, 6 -- Beaten by compatriot Rafael at the near post early on as Lacazette opened the scoring, the Brazil international improved after that and was otherwise convincing.
DF Thiago Silva, 7 -- Commanding. After Marquinhos and Maxwell combined to allow Lyon an early goal, the captain and his fellow Brazilians closed ranks and kept it tight for the rest of the match.
DF Maxwell, 6 -- At fault for Lacazette's opener, the veteran Brazilian quickly atoned with a crucial block on the line to deny Lyon a rapid-fire second. After that, he grew into the game without ever excelling.
MF Adrien Rabiot, 7 -- Booked early on, the France international become more and more influential as the match wore on. To cap a good performance, he finished off a superb team move to equalise.
MF Marco Verratti, 7 -- The Italy international was back to something close to his best after a couple of disappointing performances. The Azzurri star's close control was excellent, and he did a good job of keeping possession before making way for returning compatriot Thiago Motta late.
MF Javier Pastore, 8 -- Starting alongside Verratti and Rabiot, the Argentina international produced two fine assists and underlined how PSG have missed his creativity with a variety of probing passes.
FW Angel Di Maria, 5 -- Denied by Anthony Lopes in the first half, the Argentina international fired wide in the second and arguably should have done better. "El Fideo" tried plenty in attack, but not much worked out.
FW Edinson Cavani, 5 -- Cavani was booked for arguing with the referee and was guilty of missing a good second-half chance with a lob from a lofted Pastore pass. It was not one of the Uruguay international's finest outings.
FW Julian Draxler, 6 -- The Germany international scored with a stylish finish to win PSG the game after recovering from a slow start. However, he did little after that and was replaced by Blaise Matuidi after 53 minutes.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 -- Energetic, the France international got stuck in and helped to further tire a flagging Lyon side.
FW Lucas Moura, NR -- The Brazilian added an injection of pace late and nearly created a third goal for the hosts, but he could not locate Cavani in the box.
MF Thiago Motta, NR -- With Motta given only a few minutes at the end, it was good to see the experienced Italian back on the pitch after a lengthy injury absence.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.