Di Maria and Icardi give PSG win in Brest
In-form Argentine duo Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi ensured Paris Saint-Germain got back to winning ways but the Ligue 1 Conforama leaders were made to battle all the way for a 2-1 victory at Stade Brestois 29 on Saturday.
Stade Brestois 29 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain
The Week 12 loss at Dijon had suggested Thomas Tuchel's men were vulnerable to some of Ligue 1 Conforama's lesser lights, and Brest — who had failed to beat PSG in their previous 16 attempts — certainly gave some credence to that suspicion as they gamely defended their unbeaten home record this season.
The visitors problems started before kick-off when Keylor Navas was injured during the warm-up, offering Sergio Rico an unexpected PSG debut. The league leaders' back-up 'keeper watched Yoann Court send a half-volley just over (9'), and then punched away a Mathias Autret curler (15') as Brest threatened to end PSG's record as the only side to have always opened the scoring away from home this season.
Court was involved again when many inside the Stade Francis Le Blé thought the hosts had taken the lead. Latching onto a knockdown from ex-PSG man Gaëtan Charbonnier, Court's shot went desperately close to the target (25').
Di Maria has been in superb form though and has now been involved in 25 league goals in 2019 after scoring his 14th of the calendar year. The Argentina international was sent haring goalwards by Julian Draxler's ball and clipped it over the advancing Gautier Larsonneur (40'). The offside flag was raised, but VAR ensured the goal was given.
Mbappé out, Icardi steps up
With no Kylian Mbappé in the PSG squad after he felt an adductor twinge in training, Edinson Cavani was leading the line for the first time since late August. The Uruguay international might have had a comeback goal — and his first-ever against Brest — had he managed to get more on his header from a Di Maria free-kick (62').
Romain Perraud immediately tested Rico with a long-range shot (63') before Brest found the net at home to PSG for the first time since 2011: Charbonnier headed down to Irvin Cardona, who then teed up Court. He recorded a seventh assist of the season by playing the ball into Samuel Grandsir, whose shot across Rico found the far corner of the net (72').
PSG pushed in the closing stages with Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Mauro Icardi both coming off the bench. The former nearly had an impact with a header that flew just over (81'); the latter did when he connected with Choupo-Moting's cross to fire home his fifth PSG goal in just his sixth league appearance (85').
THE PLAYER: Mauro Icardi
A spell on the substitutes' bench did no harm to the summer signing as he came off it to almost immediately turn the game in his side's favour. His scoring record speaks for itself, and ensures Thomas Tuchel has fierce and healthy competition for places up front.
THE STAT: 10
Icardi has now been involved in ten PSG goals in eight competitive outings, scoring nine times.