Pontivy GSI 0 Paris Saint-Germain 4: Coupe de France holders cruise through
Neymar marked his 50th Paris Saint-Germain appearance with a goal as the Coupe de France holders made a flying start to the new year.
Paris Saint-Germain got 2019 off to a flying start as they cruised into the Coupe de France round of 32 with a 4-0 victory over Pontivy GSI.
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe headlined a strong PSG side. But they needed a Sylvain Jule own goal to break the deadlock.
Making his 50th PSG appearance, Neymar hit the woodwork in the first half. However, he eventually scored with 20 minutes remaining.
Mbappe added further gloss from the penalty spot soon after. With Julian Draxler getting in on the act as the 12-time winners took their first step towards a fifth-successive Coupe de France triumph.
Clement Daoudou pulled off fine saves to deny Dani Alves and Kylian Mbappe early on. But he was powerless to prevent PSG’s 24th-minute opener.
Jule was well placed to cut out Neymar’s cross. Only to panic when the ball came to him and send his attempted clearance looping in over Daoudou.
Florian Jegu snatched at a chance to promptly restore parity. That profligacy almost proved costly when Neymar’s deflected free-kick hit the upright.
Neymar took matters into his own hands as the hour approached. But Daoudou was alert to the Brazilian’s clever chip.
Daoudou was at his best again soon after to tip Draxler’s attempt over. However he was finally beaten for a second time when Neymar drilled in from close range.
The floodgates were open. And, after Mbappe sent Daoudou the wrong way from 12 yards following a clumsy foul from Florian Paillot, Draxler chipped in a fourth to round off the rout.
With a Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final against Guingamp coming up, it would have been easy for Thomas Tuchel to rest PSG’s star names. But instead he showed just what the competition means to the Ligue 1 leaders by selecting the likes of Neymar, Mbappe and Thiago Silva.
While the selection ensured that PSG had the quality to breakdown their determined opposition and avoid the fate suffered by Marseille earlier on Sunday. It also gave Pontivy’s players the chance to go up against some of the world’s finest.
Pontivy’s goalkeeper was always likely to be busy. But despite conceding four times, the 24-year-old did himself proud with a series of superb stops, and his performance could well attract some bigger clubs.
Jule put in a bright display in midfield as the youngster looked to impress against France’s best side. However his performance will unfortunately be remembered for the dreadful own goal that put PSG ahead.
Tuchel acknowledged that his side’s showing may not have been reflective of the scoreline, but he stressed that he was nonetheless impressed with their display.
“I was expecting this type of match,” the German told reporters post-match. “If you play seriously. It’s not possible for a fifth division team to beat us. That’s what the team did.
“We did two very intense and very serious training sessions. So I was confident before the match.
“It was not easy because the opponent was very organised. We lost a lot of easy balls.
“The last passes were not precise enough to score two or three goals in the first half. We have no injuries. And we have won the merit and for that. I am happy.
“We can play better. But it was not necessary today. That’s why it’s a good start to the year for us.”
PSG’s focus now switches to Guingamp on Wednesday, before they travel to Amiens in their first Ligue 1 fixture of 2019.