Neymar nets winner as PSG limber up for Real
By D. Crossan
Neymar's deflected 68th-minute shot proved the difference as Paris Saint-Germain warmed up for their Champions League clash with Real Madrid by winning 1-0 at Toulouse to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 Conforama.
Alban Lafont's inspired goalkeeping had kept PSG at bay until Neymar's shot deflected in off home captain Issa Diop, wrong-footing the home custodian. Subsequently Neymar hit both post and bar and PSG could easily have won by more in their final outing before heading to the Santiago Bernabeu.
PSG lined up without Edinson Cavani, rested with a slight hip problem, but could have taken the lead on five minutes when Lafont saved with his chest from Presnel Kimpembe from pointblank range. At the other end, Max Gradel skinned Dani Alves and crossed for Yaya Sanogo, whose header was dealt with by Alphonse Areola.
PSG, with Lassana Diarra playing in defensive midfield and trying to stake a Champions League claim, came up against stubborn Toulouse resistance and Lafont saved well from Kylian Mbappé, then miraculously from Neymar. When the 19-year-old was beaten he was saved by his crossbar that repelled a direct Angel Di Maria corner on the stroke of half-time.
PSG struggled to break Toulouse down in the second half until Neymar made the breakthrough. Di Maria picked the Brazilian out with a glorious cross-field ball and Neymar teased marker Steeve Yago before shooting, getting the bit of luck he needed with the deflection.
Neymar's class was to the fore as he had efforts hit both post and bar, Le Stadium's woodwork denying the world's most expensive player his 20th Ligue 1 Conforama goal of the season.
PSG had not been at their fluent best but had done the job and they carry French hopes in the Champions League. Toulouse, meanwhile, have tough home games coming up against Monaco and Marseille and will look to next weekend's game at fellow strugglers Amiens to get points on the board.
THE PLAYER: Neymar
The Brazilian always looked PSG's most likely match-winner, though there was an element of good fortune about the goal that took him only two short of Edinson Cavani as the top scorer in the division. That intra-team battle for the prize will provide an intriguing subplot to the remainder of the campaign.
THE STAT: 20
Paris Saint-Germain have won all 20 Ligue 1 Conforama fixtures this season in which they've scored the first goal.