Le Classique analysis: Same old, same old
By D. Crossan
Paris Saint-Germain again reminded Olympique de Marseille of the chasm that has opened up between the two clubs with a 3-1 Le Classique victory at the Parc des Princes.
OM's long wait for a victory against their great rivals stretches back to November 2011 and a 3-0 success at Orange Vélodrome. That win came only a matter of months after the Qatari takeover of the capital club and since then the PSG-OM duels have invariably left Paris fans feeling the happier, with 16 PSG wins and three draws in all competitions.
Even with Paris Saint-Germain still reeling from being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Manchester United and Champions League-chasing OM on a fine run, the match went the way of so many meetings before it.
Garcia: "We need to grow in experience"
Inspired by Angel Di Maria, as so often this season, PSG dismantled OM in the second half following Valère Germain's 46th-minute equaliser of Kylian Mbappé's opener that was netted in stoppage time at the end of the first period. OM boss Rudi Garcia said: "It was tough to play an excellent first 45 minutes and then go into the break a goal down - it happened to us last season here in Paris as well. The negative point is that the lads who were here last season haven't learnt the lesson and that's a shame. We need to grow in experience as we have a young team. Still, my team did extremely well to equalise early in the second half, but unfortunately we couldn't hang onto the 1-1 scoreline for long enough.
The simple truth is that to match PSG OM have to be totally switched on, applied and playing at their best across the board. The Ligue 1 Conforama champions had an extra gear to slip into and did so as the gifted Di Maria restored the home lead only nine minutes after Germain's equaliser.
The major players OM looked to for attacking inspiration were on an off-night, something that has happened too frequently to club top scorer Florian Thauvin on trips to Paris. Whatever goal celebration he had been working on during the week with Mario Balotelli never saw the light of day as the Italian - a major doubt through illness - failed to muster more than a second-minute shot comfortably dealt with by Alphonse Areola in the Paris goal.
Di Maria class
Balotelli was the player withdrawn by Garcia following goalkeeper Steve Mandanda's red card just past the hour for handling outside the box. Despite the ongoing absence of Neymar and Edinson Cavani, PSG again simply possessed too much class for OM, symbolised by Di Maria's majestic free-kick from 30 metres following the lengthy hold-up in the wake of Mandanda's dismissal.
No wonder coach Thomas Tuchel cut a delighted figure post-match with his side having done all they could to erase some of the post-United gloom and now only eight points away from guaranteeing the retention of their Ligue 1 Conforama crown.
The German said: "It was a great win. I am very happy with the whole team. The players played with a great mentality and a lot of quality. We showed how much we wanted to win. After Manchester United, it has been tough, but we have to accept what happened. The team reacted fantastically. We played high up the pitch and with good intensity. Angel Di Maria is capable of incredible skill, like for the first goal from Kylian Mbappé and then his brace. He works a lot at training. There's no magic potion in sport. Hard work pays off."