Mauro Icardi, PSG, Marseille
Match Reports

Neymar and Icardi fire Pochettino to first title

Publish on 13/01/2021 at 22:55

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Neymar Jr. came off the bench to add to Mauro Icardi's opener as Mauricio Pochettino secured his first piece of silverware as Paris Saint-Germain coach thanks to a 2-1 win over Olympique de Marseille in the Trophée des Champions.

THE MATCH

 

PSG started with plenty of attacking verve at RC Lens's Stade Bollaert-Delelis, coach Pochettino sticking - perhaps surprisingly - to the 4-3-3 that his new employers have played with for much of the campaign. Kylian Mbappé was as bright as ever early on, his turn of pace seeing him cut through the Marseille defence like butter, but it wasn't until a Mauro Icardi header midway through the half that the champions came close to scoring, the Argentine heading compatriot Angel Di Maria's inswinging corner narrowly wide (17').

 

Mbappé and Icardi combined to score soon after, but the former was offside in meeting Leandro Paredes' fine pass prior to his cut-back and the goal was chalked off (22'). Mbappé was the victim of another offside flag minutes later, starting his run to meet Marquinhos's long ball forward a fraction too early - although he finished the chance which ultimately didn't count (30'). There was no doubting PSG's opener with half-time approaching, though. Icardi got between centre-backs Alvara and Duje Caleta-Car to meet Di Maria's cross, and although Steve Mandanda saved his header, the striker reacted to tap home (39'). Icardi crashed another effort off the bar on the stroke of half-time (45'+2) and Ruddy Buquet's whistle for the interval went with the score at 1-0.

 

Paris make sure

 

Veteran Marseille shot-stopper Yohann Pelé replaced Mandanda for the second half (46') with Florian Thauvin picking up the captain's armband, and they must have had coach André Villas-Boas' words still ringing in their ears when they carved out their first real chance of the game. Thauvin got the ball into the PSG area and Nemanja Radonjic might have restored parity had he not dithered, allowing Abdou Diallo to block his shot (49'). Thauvin marauded forward soon after, fending off Marco Verratti before a shot from a tight angle which Keylor Navas did well to make sure went wide (52'). Villas-Boas then sent Dario Benedetto on for Radonjic to give his side more presence in the area (56'); although Duje Caleta-Car's volley from the edge of the area was the end of their attacking comeback (59').

 

Neymar made his return having been out since December with an ankle injury, replacing Di Maria for the final half hour (65'), and he crashed a free-kick into the Marseille wall soon after (70'). Valentin Rongier skewed an effort wide at the other end (74') but most of the late-game traffic flowed in the opposite direction, thanks largely to PSG's Brazilian superstar. Alvara was lucky to stay on the field after fouling Neymar (79') and the capital club's pressure told when Icardi was brought down by Pelé in the box; Neymar stepping up to convert the resultant penalty (85'). Marseille pulled one back through Dimitri Payet (89') bit it was too little too late.

 

THE PLAYER: Mauro Icardi

 

Given Icardi had missed eight games with a persistent groin complaint so far this term, he could hardly have looked spritelier here. It's not easy to shine amongst PSG's galaxy of stars, but the striker was unlucky not to have had a hat-trick on Wednesday, his physicality and positional sense making it little wonder Paris were so keen to secure his services from Inter Milan on a full-time basis last summer.

THE STAT: 10

PSG have now won the Trophée des Champions a record 10 times, including each of the last eight of these fixtures. The capital club have not lost the traditional season-opening showpiece since 2010, when OM took the spoils with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win. Marseille captain Mandanda is the only player to have played that day and this.