Runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to beat 10-man Saint-Etienne and open up a 14-point gap over the chasing pack in Ligue 1.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side created a host of opportunities in the opening 45 minutes but it took an injury-time equaliser to bring them level at half-time.
Neymar had a goal ruled out after a lengthy VAR check and Kylian Mbappe was twice denied by Etienne Green with just the goalkeeper to beat.
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Denis Bouanga sent the home supporters wild when he opened the scoring in the 31st-minute but their joy would soon turn to frustration.
Sergio Ramos made his long-awaited debut for PSG but it was his counter-part Thimothee Kolodziejczak who will make the headlines after he was controversially sent off for what the referee deemed to be a last-man foul on Mbappe. And from the resulting free-kick, Marquinhos headed PSG level with a quite brilliant header from Lionel Messi’s delivery.
As you would expect, it was all one-way traffic after the restart as PSG laid siege to the home side’s goal. However, Mbappe fluffed a gilt-edged opportunity and Messi missed an even easier chance a short while later before Angel Di Maria finally completed the comeback with 11 minutes to spare.
Marquinhos headed in his second of the game in added-time to put the game beyond any doubt, as PSG bounced back to winning ways following the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in midweek.
TALKING POINT – PSG benefit from harsh red
Once again PSG have come from behind to record a win in Ligue 1, but Saint-Etienne will feel aggrieved by the referee’s decision to send off Kolodziejczak.
There appeared to be a covering defender when Kolodziejczak fouled Mbappe and when the referee blew the whistle, everyone would have been expecting a yellow card to be produced. However, the match official felt differently, showing the red card and in doing so, making Saint-Etienne’s task of holding onto the lead much more difficult.
A comeback seemed inevitable, even if PSG made hard work of it. Messi provided three assists but Mbappe suffered a poor day in front of goal, but what’s more concerning is the injury suffered by Neymar, with the Brazilian leaving the pitch on a stretcher after going over on his ankle.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
He was far from his best and yet still delivered three assists.
St Etienne: Green 8, Macon 6, Nade 6, Kolodziejczak 5, Trauco 6, Camara 7, Sissoko 5, Bouanga 8, Boudebouz 7, Aouchiche 6, Khazri 7.. subs: Moukoudi 6, Youssouf 6, Gourna-Doutath 5, Krasso N/A, Calodat N/A
PSG: Donnarumma 6, Bernat 6, Ramos 7, Marquinhos 8 Hakimi 6, Gueye 6, Danilo 6, Messi 8*, Neymar 6, Mbappe 6, Di Maria 7.. subs: Pardes 5, Ebimbe N/A
23’ - GOAL! Saint-Etienne 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain (Denis Bouanga): Khazri, with the outside of the boot, picks out Kolodziejczak at the far post with a beautiful pass. His weak shot is saved by Donnarumma but Bouanga converts with the rebound. The linesman's flag is quickly raised, but after another lengthy VAR check the goal is given! Once again PSG concede first!
45’ - Red card! Kolodziejczak is shown his marching orders for a cynical foul on Mbappe! The Frenchman was through on goal but there was a covering defender and Saint-Etienne are not happy with this decision!
45’+1 - GOAL! Saint-Etienne 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain (Marquinhos): To compound the home side's pain, PSG level from the resulting free-kick! Messi chips the ball into the box, Marquinhos watches it all the way and climbs highest to head into the corner of goal! 1-1!
79’ - GOAL! Saint-Etienne 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain (Angel Di Maria): The inevitable goal is scored by Di Maria! After being played through by Messi, he was never going to miss and he has time to pick his spot, slotting it into the top corner.
90’+1 - GOAL! Saint-Etienne 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain (Marquinhos): The defender pops up with another headed goal to put the game beyond any doubt!
- Lionel Messi delivered three assists in a league game for only the third time in his career, after 12 March 2016 (v Getafe) and 9 February 2020 (v Betis) with Barcelona.
- Sergio Ramos made (101) and completed (95) the most passes.
- Paris Saint-Germain conceded the opening goal for the 11th time in Ligue 1 in 2021, their highest tally in a calendar year since 2012 (also 11).
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