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Neymar, Kylian Mbappe Rescue PSG with Late Goals to Top Montpellier in Ligue 1

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 7, 2019

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar (R) and Montpellier's French defender Arnaud Souquet fight for the ball during the French L1 football match between Montpellier Herault Sport Club (MHSC) and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on December 7, 2019, at the Mosson stadium in Montpellier, southeastern France. (Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP) (Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP via Getty Images)
PASCAL GUYOT/Getty Images

Neymar scored in successive matches for the third time this season on Saturday, when Paris Saint-Germain triumphed 3-1 against 10-man Montpellier in a come-from-behind away victory.

The Brazilian initially struggled to impose his will in a physical contest at the Stade de la Mosson, but a second-half piece of genius redeemed the forward.

Neymar's superb 20-yard free-kick pulled the visitors back level with 15 minutes to go, and he helped the turnaround by assisting Kylian Mbappe to lead for the first time.

Mbappe then turned provider for Mauro Icardi to continue his prolific run in PSG colours, with the Argentinian netting his 11th goal in 14 appearances for the club since joining on loan from Inter Milan.

The comeback came after midfielder Leandro Paredes' own goal four minute before half-time handed the hosts the lead.

Les Parisiens now hold an eight-point lead in front of Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 and have won their last four league games.

PSG manager Thomas Tuchel is blessed to have such an array of attacking talent in his squad, but winger Angel Di Maria was left benched while Edinson Cavani missed out due to injury.

Neymar started alongside Mbappe and Icardi in what looked like a forward three, with the former hoping to build on his recent scoring display in a 2-0 win over Nantes.

Stats Perform highlighted the importance of the defensive duel to take place between another pair of Brazilians, PSG talisman Thiago Silva and Montpellier stalwart Vitorino Hilton:

Ligue1 English @Ligue1_ENG

🧐 It’s a matchup of Brazilian longevity as @tsilva3 ‘s @PSG_English side visits Hilton and @MontpellierHSC today; @StatsPerform have the latest on #MHSCPSG 🇧🇷 https://t.co/lPZCY4BXfu

Tuchel was hampered by two first-half injuries to Prisnel Kimpembe and Idrissa Gueye, which affected the visitors' core in defence and midfield, respectively.

Abdou Diallo and 17-year-old Niankou Kouassi came on as their replacements, but the disruption in the build-up was evident compared to their full-strength selves.

It was perhaps typical of a physical, sometimes-clumsy contest that Paredes scored an own-goal opener via his hand from an opposition corner, via beIN Sports:

beIN SPORTS USA @beINSPORTSUSA

GOAL FOR MONTPELLIER! 👀 It's a shock lead for the hosts as they take the lead here against the league leaders thanks to an own goal by Leandro Paredes. #MHSCPSG LIVE NOW ⬇️ 📺 beIN SPORTS 💻📱CONNECT https://t.co/LRYa03w6yI https://t.co/a1cIcPqUPS

Neymar appeared to start the game staggered slightly behind a front two of Mbappe and Icardi, playing alongside Pablo Sarabia as a left-sided attacking midfielder during the early phases.

His base seemed to switch back to a more natural left-wing role after the breakthrough on 41 minutes, but he remained largely ineffective for the hosts.

Neymar was dispossessed five times in the first half, per WhoScored.com, though journalist Cedric Granel noted more wastefulness (h/t Get French Football News):

Get French Football News @GFFN

Neymar in this 1st half vs Montpellier: 34 touches, 18 balls lost. (Via @cedricgranel)

Football blogger Andre Noruega highlighted the South American wasn't the only underperforming PSG star:

André Noruega @AndreOstgaard

Neymar and Mbappé have been mostly invisible

A more careful Neymar emerged for the second period, and the forward produced some of his mesmeric best in the opposition half to help turn the match on its head.

Montpellier defender Pedro Mendes was sent off for a second caution after 72 minutes, and Neymar exploited the advantage shortly after with a pinpoint free-kick from just outside the box:

beIN SPORTS USA @beINSPORTSUSA

GOAL FOR PSG! 🚀 The visitors level from Neymar off this ROCKET of a free kick as it goes into the top scorer by the Brazilian! 😲 #MHSCPSG LIVE NOW ⬇️ 📺 beIN SPORTS 💻📱CONNECT https://t.co/LRYa03w6yI https://t.co/pbXv8sPqRr

It was barely a minute later when PSG won the ball back in midfield, and Neymar fed Mbappe on the left, who jinked inside to power in an emphatic second for the travelling team:

beIN SPORTS USA @beINSPORTSUSA

Mbappe on the scoresheet!! Moments after the @neymarjr equalizer, @KMbappe puts @PSG_English in front! #MHSCPSG https://t.co/8z0cOyWfuj

Whatever words were shared at half-time appeared to work for Neymar and PSG as a whole, though it's worth noting they only scored after the home side were reduced to 10 men.

With 10 minutes still to go, Mbappe found space down the left and crossed with the outside of his boot for Icardi to thump in a volley and join the onslaught.

Tuchel will be happy with Neymar's ability to punctuate a victory with two crucial moments of majesty, though the manager will also ask questions as to why he didn't produce more magic in a poor first half.

       

What's Next?

PSG's attention turns towards the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, when they'll host Galatasaray—though they're already guaranteed to finish atop Group A. Montpellier travel to face Lille on Friday in Ligue 1.