Paris Saint-Germain Unable to Get the Win They Need to Improve Champions League Hopes
Napoli and Paris St Germain battled to a 1-1 draw in their Champions League match on Tuesday as Neymar produced a typical performance for the French side, mixing brilliance with petulance.
Juan Bernat gave PSG a deserved lead in first-half stoppage time before Lorenzo Insigne levelled from a penalty in the 62nd minute, after Jose Callejon pounced on a mistake by PSG defender Thiago Silva and was upended in the area.
The result, combined with Red Star Belgrade’s 2-0 win over Liverpool earlier on Tuesday, threw Group C wide open with only two points separating the four sides.
Liverpool and Napoli have six apiece, with PSG on five and Red Star Belgrade on four. PSG and Napoli drew 2-2 in their previous meeting last month.
Neymar did not get on the score sheet but was in the thick of the action.
The Brazilian showed flashes of inspiration and sowed panic when he ran at the Napoli defense. Yet there were also moments when he was too individualist, argued with opponents and he was eventually booked for sarcastically applauding the referee.
PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, making his Champions League debut for them after completing a three-match ban from last season, did not have a save to make in the first half of his first match in Italy since leaving Juventus.
Napoli struggled to play their way out of defense against PSG’s aggressive pressing and it was the visitors who had the better openings, eventually going ahead in the second minute of stoppage time.
Neymar released Kylian Mbappe down the left with a delightful chipped pass, the French World Cup winner twisted and turned his way past Raul Albiol and pulled the ball back to Juan Bernat who, despite stumbling, managed to beat David Ospina.
It was a different story after halftime as Napoli tore into the visitors.
Buffon twice denied Dries Mertens, then a Jose Callejon shot was blocked by Thilo Kehrer and Fabian Ruiz went close with a drive from outside the penalty area.
Buffon somehow managed to stop a Lorenzo Insigne shot on the line which he knew nothing about, and it took the penalty to finally beat the 40-year-old veteran.
Thiago Silva had failed to intercept the ball, Callejon nipped in and was caught in a sandwich between the keeper and the Brazilian defender. Insigne converted and the San Paolo stadium went wild.
The play remained open and niggly, but neither side were able to find a winner.
“In the first half, they had control of the game but there were very few dangerous attacks and the halftime score forced us to play with more force,” said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti. He continue: “I’m very happy because we came out of the two matches against PSG – one of the strongest sides in Europe – with a small advantage.”
On match day five, Group C reaches a pivotal moment. PSG host second-place Liverpool at the Parc des Princes, a game which could eliminate Tuchel’s team. In the groups other game, Napoli face Red Star at the San Paolo. PSG’s future in the Champions League hangs by a thread, with a win necessary on match day five.