Not even Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi could inspire Paris Saint-Germain to victory at the Parc des Princes as the Ligue 1 Uber Eats leaders were held 0-0 by Nice. Olympique de Marseille climbed to second thanks to a 1-0 win at 10-man Nantes.
Messi paraded his seventh Ballon d’Or to the Parc des Princes crowd before kick-off but – like his side - found life tough against a determined Nice side that would have left with all three points but for Kasper Dolberg hitting the post (59’).
Without the injured Neymar, PSG lined up with Messi at centre-forward and Kylian Mbappé on the left. The first half didn’t see too many clear chances. Dolberg tested Gianluigi Donnarumma (9’) before Mbappé brought the best out of Walter Benitez (27’). Donnarumma then made the save of the half to keep out an Andy Delort header from a Jordan Lotomba cross (32’).
PSG had 22 goal attempts over the course of the match but only managed to direct five of them on target. Benitez saved from Angel Di Maria (51’) and Nuno Mendes (52’) before Dolberg spurned the chance of the match (59’). Hichem Boudaoui played in a great cross from the right and with Donnarumma and Presnel Kimpembe getting in each other’s way, the ball came through to the Dane. Surprised, Dolberg hit the post from barely a metre.
Nice defended stoutly and were rewarded with a first clean sheet in nine matches as Morgan Schneiderlin proved an able deputy for the suspended Pablo Rosario in midfield and Dante and Jean-Clair Todibo performed well at the back. PSG did go close on a couple of occasions. Mbappé, from Messi’s service, curled an attempt just wide (64’) and Di Maria (76’) was also close to finding a goal.
THE PLAYER: Kasper Dolberg
Dolberg was a surprise starter ahead of Amine Gouiri in the Nice attack and the forward had the game’s golden opportunity. Recently diagnosed with diabetes, the Danish international has only scored three league goals this season and hasn’t found the back of the net since September 12’s 2-0 win at Nantes.
THE STAT: 11
PSG have not lost any of their last 11 Ligue 1 home games against Nice (W7, D4).
Elsewhere, Gerson (30’) scored a remarkable winner on the turn at Nantes in a 1-0 Marseille victory that saw them rise to second, abetted by Nicolas Pallois being sent off (32’). Rennes’ 13-match unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end as they fell 2-1 at home to Lille. Xeka (31’) and Renato Sanches (45’) scored for the champions, with Benjamin Bourigeaud pulling one back late on (85’).
Lyon suffered their first home defeat under Peter Bosz, falling 2-1 to Reims with substitute Hugo Ekitike scoring the late winner (90+3’). Lens twice let the lead slip as they drew 2-2 at Clermont.