PSG win in Monaco and move nine points clear in Ligue 1
It was France's top two sides meeting in a game that would likely influence how the title race would be defined. Goals from Cavani and Neymar aided a comfortable night.
We brought you live coverage of Monaco vs Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 on Sunday evening as France's reigning champion looked to make a dent in the Parisien powerhouse's domestic aspirations. Their efforts will have pleased manager Leonardo Jardim however despite a spirited last push, were never a match for Unai Emery's machine.
Monaco vs PSG: match report
PSG have been brushing teams aside of late - both in their own natonal league and that of Europe's elite - so the trip to last season's French champions was not seen as an overly tricky affair. Monaco still had some excellent players to call upon after a summer where their resource sales made more headlines than their far-from-cheap purchases, but the loss of players of the ilk of Mendy, SIlva, Bakayoko and Mbappé were always going to impact. The fact that the latter was in the opposite XI in this game after his loan-to-permanent move would only make the challenge harder, though he almost inadvertently helped the cause.
It wasn't a particularly swashbuckling PSG tonight but there were times when their hosts couldn't live with their pace and creativity going forward. Mbappé always had the legs to get in behind and had the teammates to find him. Cavani, Neymar and Draxler were all heavily involved in what was good about the play of the champions-elect while at the back Marquinhos and Silva kept Monaco at bay time and time again.
The first goal came when little looked on. Some clever play on the left by Draxler laid the chance on a plate for Cavani who took full advantage with a neat jab to lift the ball into the net. But despite being the dominant side, with Monaco struggling to get any level of control, the teams went in at the break with just that single goal between them.
Home fans, and players alike, seemed to lose what belief they had shortly after the break when a penalty was won, then converted by Neymar. Some purists may question how the spot kick was gained but there was no doubting the class of his execution. Two up and that should have been that. Monaco did give their supporters something to cheer about in the closing stages - a Mbappé deflected free kick reaching the net - but the lead was always more likely to be extended rather than clawed back.
PSG are now nine points ahead of both Lyon and Monaco in the table and, unlike other challengers for Europe's top club prize, could be entering the new year with opportunities to rest players in league games. That could be telling.
Monaco vs PSG: how it happened
Monaco vs PSG live online: match preview
Paris Saint-Germain arrive at the principality aiming to open up a nine-point lead at the top of Ligue 1. On paper this should be their toughest fixture of the season, against last year's French champions, however, both sides come into this on the back of very different midweek Champions League experiences: PSG demolishing Celtic, Monaco embarrassed by RB Leipzig..
Unai Emery's men head to Monaco looking for a fourth straight win over their nearest title rivals, who will be smarting from being dumped out of Europe following that 1-4 reverse at the hands of the Bundesliga side. PSG's run of four consecutive titles was ended by a surprise Monaco side last season but, boosted by the world-record signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, have been rejuvenated this season.
PSG's Ligue 1 cruise puts focus on Champions League
Few expect anything other than a cruise in the league for the capital club, and even coach Emery claimed their final Champions League group game at Bayern Munich will be more important than this top-of-the-table showdown. PSG take on Bayern on December 5, needing only to avoid a four-goal defeat to wrap up top spot in Group B, after their stunning 7-1 victory over Celtic on Wednesday saw them smash the previous group-stage goals record with 24 in just five games.
"Sunday's game away at Monaco, whom we respect, will be a great test as well but Bayern is the big match," Emery said.
Belgian right-back Thomas Meunier was not so confident, though, insisting that there is still a long way to go before PSG can feel comfortable in the league. When asked if victory on Sunday would all but end the title race:
"No, far from it, not after 15 league games.There will be a nine-point gap if we win over there, but we know that at any moment things can happen. For me, it would be pretentious to say that we can win the championship on Sunday."
After reports of a rift between Spaniard Emery and world-record signing Neymar, the Brazilian was in sparkling form on Wednesday, scoring a brace to take his tally for the club to 13 goals.
"He was extraordinary," gushed Emery. "There were a few matches where he stopped playing for different reasons but when he is in form physically and his mentality is right, he can play."
Monaco looking to give season real meaning
Monaco have struggled to match the achievements of last season, when they also reached the Champions League semi-finals, after seeing their title-winning side decimated in the transfer market. After the departures of left-back Benjamin Mendy, midfielders Tiemoue Bakayoko and Bernardo Silva, and teenage sensation Mbappe, among others, they failed to find a win in five Champions League group-stage outings.
But victory at the Stade Louis II on Sunday would drag them back to within three points of PSG, as Radamel Falcao's 13 goals in just 10 Ligue 1 games have helped Leonardo Jardim's side keep fighting at the summit.
"We have to recover from this defeat on Sunday," Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev said after Tuesday's loss to Leipzig. "The goal is to be stronger next year in the European Cup, it takes time for a team to work well. I know that the players will show their quality, the season is still long."
Monaco vs PSG live online: betting odds
If you think the home team can repeat the scoreline from this fixture last season (3-1) then you can get 33/1 with bookmakers. If you can't see past a comfortable 0-2 win for PSG then you can still turn 10 of your hard-earned euros into 90.