Paris Saint-Germain were seconds away from their first defeat to bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille since 2011, when Edinson Cavani stepped up and rescued them with a free kick that crashed in off the crossbar to earn a 2-2 draw on Sunday. Florian Thauvin looked to have won it for OM, especially when Neymar saw red for two bookable offences, but Cavani saved the day at Stade Velodrome. Before that, Luiz Gustavo and Neymar had traded goals in Le Classique’s first half.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man — Cavani stepped up when Neymar and Mbappe were incapable of doing so and kept his nerve to crash home a spectacular late free kick to save PSG a point.
Not only had PSG not lost to Marseille since 2011, they remain unbeaten in Ligue 1 this season. Unai Emery’s men are still yet to taste defeat in Le Championnat and narrowly avoided humiliation at the hands of their fiercest foes.
To be honest, though, Marseille showed more hunger and desire to beat PSG on the night and few could have begrudged them the victory — despite some questionable refereeing.
Neymar might have equalised in the first half but the Brazilian superstar struggled for most of that opening 45 and then let himself down with two unnecessary yellow cards in the second half to be dismissed.
Mbappe was hyped up before the clash but was totally wretched. It was a miracle that Emery kept him on until the pitch until the 79th minute when Angel Di Maria replaced him.
Alphonse Areola was at fault for Gustavo’s opener and looked ill at ease after a series of strong performances of late. However, he did make one important late save to deny Bouna Sarr.
Manager rating out of 10
4 — Emery’s starting XI left little to the imagination and failed to address left back Layvin Kurzawa’s recent poor form. It was a poor display from the Spaniard, both in terms of his initial selection and his handling of the substitutes.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alphonse Areola, 4 — The youth academy graduate could, and should, have done much better with Luiz Gustavo’s opener and will come under a bit of scrutiny after a bit of pressure produced such a lapse. It should not go forgotten, though, that the French shot-stopper made an important late save to keep Sarr out.
DF Thomas Meunier, 3 — The Belgium international has shown the ability to play even while not fully fit and ready. He failed to do so here, however, and put in a disappointing performance on the right.
DF Marquinhos, 5 — Although he was arguably better than returning captain Thiago Silva on the night, the Brazil international did not produce his best showing.
DF Thiago Silva, 4 — It might have been mostly Adrien Rabiot’s fault but the skipper still played a role in Thauvin’s late strike for Marseille. A fully fit Presnel Kimpembe might have paired better with Marquinhos for this one.
DF Layvin Kurzawa, 3 — The France international was poor again on the left and Emery really needs to start considering giving Yuri Berchiche a chance to add some balance to the back four as part of the starting XI.
MF Thiago Motta, 3 — The veteran Italian gave the ball away a few times early on and struggled to get a foothold in the match after that.
MF Marco Verratti, 5 — The Italy international was one of PSG’s better performers, especially in the first half. However, he was left to do it alone in the midfield for the most part by Motta ad Adrien Rabiot.
MF Adrien Rabiot, 4 — The France international was guilty of losing the ball that created Thauvin’s goal and it almost cost his team.
FW Kylian Mbappe, 2 — The French prodigy’s worst performance in PSG colours. Les Parisiens’ No. 29 did not look himself at any point and was booked in the second half for petulantly protesting the decision to not award a penalty for Jordan Amavi’s handball. Ultimately, the 18-year-old was withdrawn after 79 minutes.
FW Edinson Cavani, 6 — El Matador stood up and was counted just as it looked as if all was lost for PSG. Had he done anything but score, he would have been savaged. However, Cavani underlined his star — and big-game player — status instead.
FW Neymar, 4 — The Brazil international swept home PSG’s first equaliser and showed flashes of inspiration but the individual attention he was paid by the Marseille players and supporters eventually got the better of him and now he will be suspended.
MF Julian Draxler, 5 — Sent on in Motta’s place with 21 minutes to go, the Germany international tried to add some greater attacking impetus to the midfield.
FW Angel Di Maria, NR — The Argentina international was given 11 minutes at the end in Mbappe’s place but was barely given a touch of the ball.