Neymar Sits Out as Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria Fire PSG Past Saint-Etienne

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2018

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 14:  Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates his goal with Moussa Diaby and Marco Verratti during the French Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint Germain and AS Saint Etienne on September 14, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain coasted past Saint-Etienne 4-0 on Friday at the Parc des Princes, continuing their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season.

Julian Draxler's brilliant header gave the French champions a lead at the break before PSG turned on the style in the second half. Edinson Cavani slotted their second from the penalty spot before Angel Di Maria and Moussa Diaby added further gloss to the scoreline.

Most encouragingly for manager Thomas Tuchel would be that PSG were able to perform to such a high standard without a couple of key men. He rested Neymar and Kylian Mbappe ahead of the team's trip to Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

The match was an emotional occasion for the Saint-Etienne players as they paid tribute to their former player William Gomis, who died recently.

Per Get French Football News, his name was emblazoned on the back of the visitors' jerseys:

Get French Football News @GFFN

In honour of William Gomis, the reserve team player who was killed by AK-47 fire last weekend, St Étienne will all wear shirts with the same name vs. PSG this evening: his. https://t.co/DSptTvRcOJ

It's been a routine beginning to the 2018-19 campaign for PSG, and with that in mind, Tuchel decided to leave his two key attackers out on Friday. 

Neymar and Mbappe sat alongside one another in the stands as they watched PSG make it five wins from five:

B/R Football @brfootball

Chilled Friday nights. https://t.co/KNuvBoZUCH

The early pattern of the game suggested this may be a testing night for the capital club, and Lois Diony missed a glorious chance to fire Les Verts ahead. A brilliant bit of improvisation from Draxler broke the stalemate.

In the 22nd minute, the Germany international latched onto a long pass, heading the ball up in the air. He then adjusted brilliantly, holding off a closing defender and nodding a brilliant effort beyond the goalkeeper for his first goal of the campaign:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

Julian Draxler, that is just rude! 😍 Header to control, header to finish. Feet are overrated. 🤹 https://t.co/qWliVHfh7Z

While Saint-Etienne posed a threat on the break and from set pieces at times, from that point on, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for them, even with the score still 1-0 at half-time.

In the second period, the class of the French champions began to show and a weary Saint-Etienne defence started to make mistakes. Loic Perrin made a costly one inside his own penalty area, hauling Cavani down, and the Uruguayan got up to convert from the spot.

So far this season the PSG No. 9 has been deadly in front of goal, per OptaJean:

OptaJean ⭐⭐ @OptaJean

3 - Edinson Cavani has scored three goals in Ligue 1 this season, with only... three shots on target (five shots overall). Sniper. #PSGASSE https://t.co/LBGZ9rxQB6

From there, it was plain sailing for the Parisians, as they started to cut through their opponents freely. With 14 minutes remaining, Di Maria found space in the penalty area and slammed home from close range.

There was a big moment for Diaby, who was alert at the back post in the 84th minute to tuck home his first Ligue 1 goal for the club. 

Graphic designer Emilio Sansolini summed up how dominant PSG have been this season:

Emilio Sansolini @EmilioSansolini

#PSG ⚙️ #Ligue1 https://t.co/tWPVmKLLdv

The Paris giants are expected to dominate the domestic scene again, having won all three trophies available to them last term. What happens at Liverpool in a white-hot atmosphere on Tuesday will likely give us a stronger indication of where this side ranks among Europe's best.



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