Paris Saint-Germain won their 10th Trophée des Champions on Wednesday night as they beat rivals Olympique de Marseille in the French Super Cup at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.
A Mauro Icardi tap-in gave PSG the lead before the break, and then Neymar made it 2-0 with a converted penalty kick late on. Dimitri Payet halved the deficit before the night was over, but Les Parisiens held on to secure the win and the title.
Story of the match
As a rivalry game with a trophy on the line, it was no surprise to see the contest start off quite slowly. The opening moments were cagey to say the least since neither side wanted to make an early mistake.
Paris thought they had taken the lead after 22 minutes as Kylian Mbappe snuck in behind before setting up Mauro Icardi for an easy tap-in. However, the flag went up on the sideline, which was the correct call since Mbappe had strayed offside.
The game finally kicked into gear a few moments later. Marseille nearly scored one of the goals of the season when Boubacar Kamara launched a shot from midfield, but Keylor Navas was able to get back in time to catch the audacious attempt. PSG then had another goal called back for offside, as Mbappe was played through before slotting home from close range, but he had just gone a bit early once again.
It would be third time lucky for Paris as Icardi's goal at the half hour mark stood. A sublime cross from Alessandro Florenzi picked out the Argentine in the area, and even though his header was saved by Steve Mandanda, Icardi was able to pounce on the rebound.
PSG nearly made it two right before the halftime break. Coming courtesy of a blistering counter, Mbappe laid the ball off to Icardi who took a touch before unleashing a shot towards goal. Unfortunately, he could only watch as his effort smashed off the crossbar before the rebound was cleared out of play.
Marseille started the second half on the front foot and carved out a few half chances. Florian Thauvin got free on the wing but couldn’t get a shot on target, while Alvaro failed to make the most with a header from a corner moments later.
They would rue those misses, as Paris were awarded a penalty with 10 minutes to go after Icardi was taken down by substitute goalkeeper Yohann Pelé. Fellow substitute Neymar stepped up to take the resulting spotkick, and he buried it with ease.
Les Olympiens would not go down without a fight, though, as they pulled a goal back moments later. Thauvin was the creative force once again, as his low cross picked out the onrushing Dimitri Payet who flicked the ball past Navas and into the back of the net.
They pushed forward in search of a stoppage time equalizer, but PSG was able to hold on to add yet another trophy to their ever growing cabinet.
This was never going to be an easy game for Paris.
Going against one of their biggest rivals with a trophy on the line, this contest served as a huge test for PSG. Their mentality in the past has been questioned, but they knew a win here could go a long way in challenging those criticisms.
In the end, they were deserved winners on the night. Paris were the better team to start, and other than a few periods during the match, they were better than Marseille throughout. They did have to hold on at the very end after falling asleep at the back, but it was still a pretty dominant performance from them.
Now, PSG will look to build on this experience as they turn to the future under new boss Mauricio Pochettino. The Ligue 1 title has not yet been clinched, but there’s little reason for the club to worry about that campaign. Their true sights will be set on the Champions League, as the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Barcelona is just over a month away.
If Les Parisiens can keep playing like this, then they’ll fancy their chances of finally winning Europe’s most prestigious club competition.
Man of the match - Neymar
All eyes were on Neymar going into this contest, and he was able to shine when it mattered most.
Forced to settle for a spot on the bench since he had only just recently returned from injury, it wasn’t clear if the Brazilian would be able to play at all. However, Pochettino decided to take the risk and sub him on at the hour mark, and his decision paid off handsomely.
Neymar was a spark as soon as he first touched the ball. Constantly involved going forward, he found spaces in the final third before either dribbling past defenders or picking out teammates with clever passes. Marseille couldn’t stop him, and the only thing they could do was foul him time and time again.
The attacker would get onto the scoresheet before the night was over, slotting home a penalty to clinch the victory for Paris. It was a deserved goal for Neymar, who will now hope he can just stay healthy for the rest of the campaign.
If he does, then PSG will be a real force once again.