PSG Seal Place In Last 16 Of Champions League

Club Brugge’s Ivorian defender Odilon Kossounou (L) fights for the ball with Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Club Brugge at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on November 6, 2019.
Thomas SAMSON / AFP

 

Mauro Icardi scored the only goal and Keylor Navas saved a second-half penalty as Paris Saint-Germain edged out Club Brugge 1-0 to secure their place in the knockout phase of the Champions League with two group matches to spare on Wednesday.

Argentine striker Icardi’s close-range finish in the first half at the Parc des Princes was his eighth goal in PSG’s last seven matches and it was enough to give the French champions a fourth win in as many outings in Group A.

However, their opponents played well enough to take something from the game and would have done so had Navas not stopped Mbaye Diagne’s 76th-minute spot-kick.

Despite failing to convince here — two weeks after a 5-0 victory when the sides met in Belgium — PSG know they will appear in the last 16 for the eighth consecutive season, and a draw in their next game away to Real Madrid will ensure that they progress as winners of Group A.

Real are also on the verge of qualifying themselves after a 6-0 hammering of Galatasaray on Wednesday.

Club Brugge, meanwhile, are now unlikely to finish higher than third — which would see them parachute into the Europa League — as they fell short of replicating their impressive display in drawing 2-2 away to Real earlier in the campaign.

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Nevertheless, they are supposed to be small fry for the behemoth that PSG have become.

On Wednesday, the Qatar-owned outfit announced record turnover for last season of 637.8 million euros ($706m), confirming their status as one of the world’s richest clubs.

What PSG do in the group stage has never really been the issue, and once again it will only be when the knockout rounds begin in February that their true potential will be measured.

The nature of their display here, just five days after a Ligue 1 loss against modest Dijon, does raise questions, yet Thomas Tuchel’s side are still yet to concede a goal in this Champions League campaign and again they won here without Neymar.

The Brazilian is scheduled to be back from his latest spell on the sidelines in time for the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu on November 26.

Cavani Left On Bench Again

After scoring a stunning hat-trick as a second-half substitute in Bruges, Kylian Mbappe made his first start in the Champions League this season, while Icardi was again preferred to Edinson Cavani up front.

Cavani, PSG’s all-time leading goal-scorer, has not started a game since suffering a hip injury in late August.

He watched on as Icardi got the opening goal midway through the first half, prodding home from close range after the visitors made a mess of dealing with a seemingly harmless ball into the box by Colin Dagba.

Icardi later hobbled off with a knock to be replaced by Cavani in the 72nd minute, with the Uruguayan being given a hero’s welcome onto the pitch by the home fans.

However, within moments of his introduction the away side won a penalty, Scottish referee Bobby Madden pointing to the spot when substitute Diagne went down under a Thiago Silva challenge.

It was a glorious chance for Club to earn a draw that they will feel they deserved, and yet Senegalese striker Diagne’s kick was clutched low down by a grateful Navas.

Having earlier made two notable saves to deny Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis, including showing excellent reactions to get down to a deflected effort just after half-time, the Costa Rican was the real hero of the night for the home side.

AFP

Neymar Escapes With Warning After ‘Slapping’ Fan

FILE PHOTO: Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. PHOTO: Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

Neymar will escape prosecution for an altercation with an opposition supporter after Paris Saint-Germain’s surprise defeat in the French Cup final in April, sources told AFP on Monday.

Prosecutors have decided the Brazilian star will receive a written warning and no further action will be taken.

A 29-year-old Rennes fan who had been filming Neymar as he climbed the stairs to collect his loser’s medal at the Stade de France appeared to cajole the disconsolate player after the French league champions were defeated in a penalty shootout.

Neymar stopped, used his hand to lower the phone and then tapped the fan on the chin.

“I shouldn’t have done it but sometimes it’s hard to remain calm,” Neymar said on Instagram at the time.

A lawyer for the fan who filed a complaint against Neymar for violent behaviour said the warning was unacceptable.

“It’s a justification of violence,” said lawyer Philippe Ohayon. “If that had been a fan hitting a player he would have been brought to justice and maybe even received a custodial sentence.”

Neymar was given a three-match ban for the gesture at the time of the incident.

AFP

PSG Suffer 2-1 Defeat To Bottomside Dijon

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentine midfielder Angel Di Maria reacts during the French L1 football match between Dijon Football Cote-d’Or (DFCO) and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on November 1, 2019, at the Gaston Gerard stadium in Dijon.
Philippe DESMAZES / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of rock-bottom Dijon on Friday with coach Thomas Tuchel accusing his expensively-assembled team of “being too passive and not playing together”.

It was the third loss of the Ligue 1 season for the French champions who could also see their lead at the top trimmed to just five points by the end of the weekend.

Dijon, who started the day at the foot of the table with just nine points, fell behind to Kylian Mbappe’s fifth goal in seven games.

However, Mounir Chouiar levelled in the sixth minute of stoppage time in the first half before Venezuelan international Jhonder Cadiz hit the winner in the 47th minute.

“We were too passive in the first half, not only in defence but also in attack because we did not play together,” said Tuchel.

“We lacked precision and rhythm. It was much better in the second half because we had three shots before half-time and 17 after the break. Maybe we didn’t deserve to have success or luck with us today.”

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PSG were without the injured Neymar but looked more than capable of blowing away a Dijon team who had managed to score just six goals in 11 games before Friday’s match which was played out in torrential rain.

Dijon had previously never defeated PSG in the top flight in 2011, conceding 31 goals in eight meetings.

Mbappe gave PSG the lead in the 19th minute after a terrible mix-up in the Dijon defence allowed Angel Di Maria to steal possession and feed Mbappe.

The French World Cup winner finished with a delightful chip over Alfred Gomis in the Dijon goal.

After the match was held up due to a nasty blow suffered by Fouad Chafik who collided with Gomis, Dijon were on level terms.

Didier Ndong crossed from the right with PSG keeper Keylor Navas clearing the ball only as far as Chouiar who hit the target.

Two minutes into the second period, Cadiz shrugged off the attentions of Marquinhos and Idrissa Gueye before tucking away a left-foot shot between the legs of Navas.

“We hate to lose,” added Tuchel. “It could have been possible to win given the number of chances we created. We always say that we are in another league. We must accept defeat and improve but I retain confidence in my players.”

The three points lifted Dijon into third from bottom in the Ligue 1 table while PSG will now need to regroup before facing Club Brugge in the Champions League at home on Wednesday.

AFP

Inter Edge ‘Neymar-Less’ PSG On Penalties

Inter Milan’s players celebrate winning the match against Paris St. Germain in a penalty shootout after their International Super Cup football match in Macau on July 27, 2019.
VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP

 

Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario scored the final spot-kick as Inter Milan beat Neymar-less Paris Saint-Germain on penalties in Macau on Saturday.

With their want-away Brazilian superstar left out of the trip to the former Portuguese colony, PSG were seconds from victory before Samuele Longo’s injury-time equaliser made it 1-1.

Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic saved from Adil Aouchiche and then Arthur Zagre before Mario stepped up to slot the winner for Inter, who edged the penalties 6-5.

The win for Antonio Conte’s side comes just days after they lost to Italian rivals Juventus on penalties in a friendly in China.

READ ALSO: Barcelona Beat Ex-Star Iniesta’s Kobe In Pre-Season Friendly

Neymar, linked with a move back to his former club Barcelona, remained in China’s Shenzhen, PSG’s previous stop on their Asian tour, while his team-mates flew to gambling enclave Macau.

In a scrappy game in sweltering Macau, Inter were quicker out of the blocks forcing three fine stops from PSG’s Alphonse Areola in the first 10 minutes.

New signing Stefano Sensi and Ivan Perisic were instrumental in the early Inter attack, producing quick probing passes and causing problems behind the PSG defence.

In Neymar’s absence, it was French World Cup-winner Kylian Mbappe who drew cheers from the 8,800-strong crowd with his driving runs, although he was often let down by his final touch.

Just before half-time, Mbappe was brought down by Milan Skriniar and new signing Pablo Sarabia floated a free-kick which a climbing Thilo Kehrer glanced into the net.

Inter leapt into the attack in the second half, with Perisic jinking his way into the box to force another fine save from Areola, before sending the rebound soaring over the bar.

Inter continued to squander chances, with the heat adding to their frustration, with Perisic seeing another chance creep over on 78 minutes.

But in the last minute of injury time substitute Longo picked up a bobbling pass trickling through the PSG box to drive the ball into the bottom corner, past the otherwise rock-solid Areola, who thumped the ground in frustration.

Penalties went to sudden death after PSG’s Adil Aouchiche’s effort was stopped by Handanovic, but Antonio Candreva’s cheeky attempt to chip Areola backfired and glanced off the crossbar.

It was up to Handanovic to make another fine stop from Arthur before Mario calmly buried the crucial kick.

AFP

Neymar Wants To Return To Barcelona, Says Club’s Vice-President

FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s Neymar warms up before a friendly football match against Qatar at the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia ahead of Brazil 2019 Copa America. PHOTO: EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Brazilian superstar Neymar wants to return to Barcelona two years after quitting the club to join Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona’s vice-president said Thursday.

“What is correct, at the current time, what I have read, what I have heard, which seems exact, is that Neymar wants to come back to Barcelona,” Jordi Cardoner told a press conference at the Camp Nou.

But he stressed that Barcelona had made no contact so far with the world’s most expensive footballer who joined the French champions for 222 million euros ($252 million).

For the moment the club acknowledged Neymar’s interest in returning to Barcelona but said there was no recruitment effort on their part to resign him.

“To say that Barça is working on recruiting Neymar, that is something I cannot agree with,” Cardoner said.

“For the moment all that is happening — and not only with Neymar — is that a number of players would like to play for a great club like Barcelona. We will see what happens in timely fashion.”

“We are currently working on the phase of deciding which players we will not be keeping on next season,” said Cardoner.

“We are recruiting no-one at the moment, especially not this player (Neymar) with whom we have had no contact.”

However, media reports indicated that intermediaries between PSG and Barca had hammered out the terms of the deal which would free the Brazilian star to return to Barcelona this summer.

According to other Spanish media reports this week, Neymar has offered to take a pay cut of 12 million euros a year to return to the club and Barca have reached a ‘verbal agreement’ to take him back.

The 27-year-old spent four years at Camp Nou, winning the Champions League in 2015 and two La Liga titles in a potent attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Any return for Neymar would likely require Barca to raise funds through sales. Antoine Griezmann is expected to join from Atletico Madrid for 120 million euros while Frenkie de Jong has already signed for 75 million euros from Ajax.

The pay cut would see Neymar’s salary clipped from around 36 million euros at PSG to the 24 million euros he received at Barca prior to his departure in 2017, according to the reports.

AFP

World Cup Winner Buffon To Leave Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain’s Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon salutes supporters before the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)/AFP

 

Gianluigi Buffon will leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer after it was agreed to not renew the former Italy captain’s contract, the French champions announced on Wednesday.

“Following joint discussions, Paris Saint-Germain and Gianluigi Buffon have agreed to not renew the legendary goalkeeper’s contract which expires on 30 June 2019,” PSG said in a statement.

The 41-year-old goalkeeper, who won the World Cup in 2006 and is Italy’s most-capped player with 176 appearances, did not say whether he would be retiring from the game after leaving the French capital.

He joined PSG last summer after ending a trophy-packed 17-year career at Italian giants Juventus and played 25 times in all competitions for PSG last season, winning the Ligue 1 title and the pre-season Champions Trophy.

“Today my adventure outside Italy comes to an end,” Buffon said in a statement.

“Ernest Hemingway wrote that there are only two places in the world where people can live happily: at home and in Paris. Today onwards, this will also apply to me: Paris, in some way, will always remain my home.”

This season’s league title was the 10th of Buffon’s career, adding to a bulging trophy cabinet that contains just about every honour in football.

However the Champions League has eluded him despite him spending the bulk of his career at Juve, one of Europe’s biggest clubs, and it was hoped that he might break his duck with the Qatari-funded Parisians.

However, despite winning the league at a canter, the past season was a poor one for both Buffon and a team with lofty ambitions on the European stage.

They missed out on both domestic cup competitions and most importantly were dumped out of the Champions League by Manchester United in embarrassing style, blowing a 2-0 first-leg lead to go out on away goals following a controversial last-gasp penalty.

Buffon made a crucial error that helped United achieve their remarkable comeback, spilling Marcus Rashford’s weak shot into the path of Romelu Lukaku to allow the Belgian to score the away side’s second and set up a dramatic finish.

Champions League: Neymar Gets Three Match-Ban For Insulting Referee

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Monaco (ASM) on April 21, 2019 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Neymar was suspended for three Champions League matches by UEFA on Friday for a foul-mouthed tirade at match officials following Paris Saint-Germain’s shock exit from this season’s tournament to Manchester United.

The Brazil star missed the 3-1 Champions League second leg last 16 defeat on March 6 through injury but told match officials “to go fuck yourselves” on social media after watching on from the sidelines at the Parc des Princes.

Neymar was found guilty of “insulting/molesting acts against a match official”, European football’s governing body announced in a statement after opening an inquiry into his outburst on March 22.

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The 27-year-old, who will now miss half of PSG’s group stage matches in the Champions League next season, was angry with the award of a decisive injury-time penalty which Marcus Rashford scored to send United through.

“It’s a disgrace. They get four guys who don’t understand football to watch a slow-motion replay in front of the TV,” Neymar wrote in Portuguese on Instagram after the game.

He had watched on incredulous from the sidelines as United were awarded the spot-kick for a debatable handball via the video assistant referee (VAR) system, allowing Rashford to fire United into the quarter-finals on away goals.

Neymar was reportedly so enraged by the decision to give the penalty that he had to be restrained by PSG staff to stop him entering the referee’s dressing room.

United was given the spot-kick after Presnel Kimpembe was judged to have handled Diogo Dalot’s shot.

PSG made Neymar the world’s most expensive player in 2017 by signing him from Barcelona for 222 million euros as they stepped up their bid to win a maiden Champions League title, but they have now lost in the last 16 in three straight seasons.

Injury has already ruled Neymar out of several key European matches for PSG, the forward missing the last 16-second leg tie against Real Madrid in 2018, then both legs against Man United at the same stage this season.

In June last year, his teammate Gianluigi Buffon was handed a three-match suspension after a tirade against referee Michael Oliver following his former club Juventus’ similarly dramatic quarter-final defeat by Real Madrid.

Former PSG defender Serge Aurier was the first player to be banned by UEFA for comments made on social media in 2015.

Neymar’s ban comes on the eve of his return to PSG’s starting line-up after injury for Saturday’s French Cup final against Rennes.

He made his first appearance since January 23 as a second-half substitute in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Monaco as PSG celebrated clinching a sixth Ligue 1 crown in seven years.

AFP

FFP: PSG ‘Vehemently Deny’ Plan To Sell Mbappe, Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (L) falls on the football as he vies for the ball with Strasbourg’s French defender Kenny Lala (R) during the French L1 football match between Strasbourg and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Stade de la Meinau stadium, in Strasbourg, on December 5, 2018.
Patrick HERTZOG / AFP

 

French champions Paris Saint-Germain have quashed reports the club could be forced to sell either Kylian Mbappe or Neymar in a bid to circumvent eventual Financial Fair Play (FFP) sanctions.

Qatar-owned PSG are one of a number of clubs under scrutiny from UEFA’s FFP regulations after splashing a combined total of more than 400 million euros in 2017 for Brazil star Neymar and World Cup winner Mbappe.

Rival clubs and even the president of Spain’s La Liga championship, Javier Tebas, bemoan the lack of sanctions for PSG, who according to recent leaked documents have violated the strict financial regulations put in place by European football’s ruling body.

UEFA still have their eye on PSG and their finances and daily sports newspaper L’Equipe claimed late on Friday that any future sanctions could see the club sell one of their most coveted stars.

But PSG were quick to shoot down the report.

“In an article published on their website on Friday night, L’Equipe dared to say that ‘PSG is ready to lose Kylian Mbappe or Neymar Jr to avoid (FFP) sanctions’,” said a statement issued by the club.

PSG “vehemently denies these totally false and ridiculous allegations, which serve only to recreate a climate of tension between the club and this media outlet.”

The front page of L’Equipe on Saturday carried pictures of both Mbappe, the 19-year-old who struck in a 4-2 World Cup final win over Croatia last summer, and Brazil star Neymar while page two claimed the club are “ready to lose a star”.

UEFA’s FFP rules mean clubs are forbidden from spending more money than they generate.

UEFA’s auditors opened an investigation into PSG in September 2017 following the purchase of Neymar from Barcelona and Mbappe from Monaco earlier that summer.

The case was shelved in June 2018, before being reopened in September 2018. PSG reacted by appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), claiming it has met UEFA’s FFP demands.

A UEFA spokesman said last month: “We will have to wait for CAS’s decision on PSG’s appeal before looking at this issue.”

Three Things We Learned From Liverpool VS Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain players (L) and Liverpool players pose before the UEFA Champions League group C football match between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 in a dramatic Champions League Group C opener at Anfield on Tuesday.

Here are three things we learned from the clash of two of the leading contenders for the Champions League title:

Reds relish Euro return

Back in Champions League action for the first time since last season’s agonising final defeat against Real Madrid, Liverpool erased the bitter taste of that loss with a thrilling success against the star-studded French champions.

Eight of Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up began the 3-1 defeat in Kiev four months ago and that group were determined to make amends.

The Reds won four and drew two of their home games in this competition in 2017-18, including memorable victories over Manchester City and Roma in the knock-out stages.

Recalling those epic demolitions, Klopp’s side tore into PSG with two goals in six minutes late in the first half through Daniel Sturridge and a James Milner penalty.

Thomas Meunier’s 40th-minute reply made it a tense second half and when Kylian Mbappe’s equalised with seven minutes left, Liverpool could have buckled.

But Roberto Firmino came off the bench to snatch the points with a dramatic stoppage-time winner just days after suffering a nasty eye injury against Tottenham.

No wonder the jubilant Brazilian celebrated by jokingly covering his wounded eye as he ran to the crowd.

Sturridge takes his chance

Sturridge seized a rare moment in the European spotlight as the Liverpool striker marked his first Champions League start for six years with a crucial goal.

Sturridge was handed his first start for Liverpool this season because of the injury Firmino sustained in a challenge with Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen.

England international Sturridge made up for lost time, breaking the deadlock in the 30th minute when he met Andrew Robertson’s pin-point cross with a clinical close-range header.

It was Sturridge’s first goal since the opening day of the season against West Ham and the 29-year-old’s first in the Champions League since he netted against Maribor in November 2017.

Sturridge’s crucial contribution served as a welcome reminder of his talent at a time when his injury-plagued career is at a crossroads following his dismal loan spell at West Brom in the second half of last season.

Tuchel suffers more Anfield angst

“This team is built for winning the Champions League. They have unbelievable quality,” Liverpool manager boss Klopp had said when asked about the threat posed by the French champions.

But, although PSG have won five Ligue 1 titles in the past six seasons, they have yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals in the Champions League since being bought by their Qatari owners.

Thomas Tuchel’s side once again flattered to deceive on the big occasion as they delivered a lacklustre display at Anfield.

Their gritty fightback would have papered over the cracks, but, not the for the first time, PSG cracked under pressure in the final moments — a familiar feeling for Tuchel after he lost an enthralling Europa League quarter-final at Liverpool two years ago.

I’d Do It Again, Says Mbappe After Red Card

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) controls the ball past Nîmes’ French defender Loick Landre during the French L1 football match between Nimes and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), on September 1, 2018, at the Costieres stadium in Nimes, southern France.
PHOTO: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe said he had no regrets after his sending-off in Paris Saint-Germain’s win at Nimes on Saturday, and claimed he would not hesitate to do the same thing again.

Having earlier scored, the 19-year-old striker was shown a straight red card in stoppage time at the end of PSG’s 4-2 victory after shoving over the Nimes midfielder Teji Savanier.

That foul was in retaliation after he had been scythed down by Savanier, and the Nimes player was also sent off for the foul.

“No, no, no,” said Mbappe afterwards when asked if he wished he had not responded the way he did.

“If I had to do it again, I would and I would apologise to all the supporters and to everyone.

“I cannot tolerate that sort of gesture, it doesn’t belong on a football field. It wouldn’t be a problem if he intended to play the ball, but he made no attempt to play the ball, we all saw it.

“But it doesn’t matter, I’ll go and defend myself before the disciplinary committee.”

Mbappe will now be automatically suspended for PSG’s next game, a home match against Saint-Etienne on September 14 that precedes a trip to Liverpool in the Champions League.

But the nature of the offence means he could face a lengthier ban from domestic action.

PSG had been 2-0 up at half-time through goals from Neymar and Angel di Maria, the latter direct from a corner, only for Nimes to pull themselves back level in the second half.

It was Mbappe’s 77th-minute goal that punctured the home side’s hopes, before Edinson Cavani secured the win late on to leave PSG with maximum points after four games of the Ligue 1 season.

Asked if he doubted that PSG would win all three points, Mbappe said: “No, we want to be a great team, and a great team must learn never to doubt itself, even in difficulty. We were in a lot of difficulty today but we come away with the victory.”

AFP

PSG Coach Emery’s House Robbed On Match Night

Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish head coach Unai Emery. Photo: GUENTER SCHIFFMANN / AFP

Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery’s Paris apartment was burgled on Wednesday evening as his side won a cup tie away at Strasbourg.

The robbery at the top floor flat of a chic Parisian street in the 16th arrondissement was discovered around 11pm by Emery’s wife. Emery himself got back from Strasbourg in the early hours of Thursday.

Signed Neymar shirts and a Rolex watch were among the items stolen with the family telling the police goods worth around 20,000 euros in total were taken.

“The door was closed but not locked,” the police said.

“The door was lifted off its hinges and the thieves took luxury handbags, jewellery, football shirts and designer clothes,” the police confirmed.

Paris Saint-Germain had a happier evening leaving Strasbourg with a 4-2 win and a place in the League Cup quarter-finals.

AFP

PSG, Bayern Fans Clash In Munich

German police broke up a mass brawl after around 60 supporters of Bayern Munich and rivals Paris Saint-Germain clashed at Munich’s main railway station ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match.

One French fan had to be treated for a head injury after the brawl broke out late on Monday night and supporters wearing masks had to be separated by police with batons.

Around 30 PSG fans were questioned by Munich police, while three Bayern fans were found to be carrying weapons and were arrested on assault charges.

Around 4,000 PSG fans are expected at the match which was already flagged up by authorities as at risk of violence.

Both clubs are through to the last 16 and will meet at Munich’s Allianz Arena with Bayern needing to win at least 4-0 in order to finish as group winners after losing 3-0 in Paris last September.

AFP