Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Lille: Neymar returns as Di Maria helps champions go 11 points clear

Oleh Jamie Smith 23 November 2019 13
Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Lille: Neymar returns as Di Maria helps champions go 11 points clear

Neymar returned for Paris Saint-Germain as a comfortable 2-0 home win over Lille moved the Ligue 1 champions 11 points clear at the top of the table.

The Brazil star had been out of action for a month due to injury but was fit enough to start at Parc des Princes on Friday, though fellow forward Kylian Mbappe, who has been ill, was only deemed ready for the bench.

Mbappe's initial absence did not hurt PSG as on-loan striker Mauro Icardi hit his ninth goal in his past eight appearances to put his side in front.

Angel Di Maria struck the second before half-time and Mbappe came off the bench to make it a good day for coach Thomas Tuchel ahead of Tuesday's Champions League trip to Real Madrid.

Icardi continued his hot streak with the opening goal for PSG in the 17th minute, the Argentina attacker arriving at the back post to convert Idrissa Gueye's left-wing cross.

PSG had not hit top gear but doubled their advantage before the half-time break.

When Neymar was tackled the ball ran loose for Julian Draxler to trick his way into space and free Di Maria in the left channel to beat Mike Maignan with a trademark left-foot curler.

Though Keylor Navas had to save well from Luiz Araujo, such was PSG's comfort that Neymar was able to make way for Mbappe's return midway through the second half.

Lille substitute Loic Remy had a chance to set up a grandstand finish but scuffed a tame finish at Navas, while Yusuf Yazici curled wide from a promising position in the closing stages.

What does it mean? Another title looks certain for PSG

Despite already having lost three times in the league this season, PSG are 11 points clear and seemingly cruising to another Ligue 1 crown. The challenge for Tuchel will be maintaining momentum and intensity for key Champions League clashes still to come.

Lille lost vital members of their coaching staff to Tottenham after Jose Mourinho's appointment this week and Christophe Galtier's side, who have only won once in the league since September, face a battle to secure Champions League football.

Gueye adds to clean sheet collection

PSG's array of attacking talent is the envy of clubs from all over the world but Gueye, who joined from Everton ahead of the 2018-19 season, may prove their most important signing in some time.

The Senegal midfielder has now played nine Ligue 1 matches for his new club and they have won eight of them, conceding just three times. As well as providing protection for PSG's defence, he created the opening goal for Icardi with a fine low cross.

Draxler miss not punished by Lille

PSG should have won by a greater margin but Draxler, who had otherwise been impressive, wasted a superb chance to add to their lead early in the second half after being set up by Icardi.

Substitute Edinson Cavani, who replaced Icardi, was also profligate in the last minute.

Key Opta Facts

- PSG have lost just one of their past 15 Ligue 1 games against Lille (W11 D3), which was back in April 2019 (1-5).
- The champions have lost just two of their most recent 68 home Ligue 1 games (W57 D9).
- Lille are winless in their last 11 away league games (D5 L6). Only Toulouse (15) are currently enduring a longer such run. It is their longest run without winning away from home in the top flight since November 2002-May 2003 (12).
- Mauro Icardi scored with his third touch of the game. The striker is scoring a goal every 17 touches in Ligue 1 this season, best rate among the top-five European Leagues.
- Idrissa Gueye has delivered his first assist in Ligue 1 since December 14, 2014, for Lille against Toulouse.
- Angel Di Maria has been involved in 11 goals in Ligue 1 2019-20 (6 goals, 5 assists). He has always been involved in more than 10 goals in a single season since his arrival in the top-five leagues in 2010. Only Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Karim Benzema have accomplished the same.

What's next?

PSG are already through to the next round of the Champions League but can secure top spot by avoiding defeat away to Real Madrid on Tuesday, with Tuchel's side back in domestic action next Sunday when they go to Monaco.

Lille are at home to Ajax on Wednesday then host Dijon in the league three days later.

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Jamie Smith

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