Mon, 25 Sep 2023

At least there was a collective element to the symmetry on Sunday evening at the Parc des Princes. In the first home match after Paris Saint-Germain were eliminated from the 2022 Champions League, large sections of the home supporters booed Lionel Messi throughout the 3-0 victory against Bordeaux - the Argentine anointed principal scapegoat for the meltdown against Real Madrid in the last-16.

A year on and in the first home game after another last-16 departure from the Champions League - this time to Bayern Munich - the pallid performance of the whole PSG team was jeered after Rennes inflicted a first home defeat of the season on the champions. And 2-0 flattered a bloodless PSG.

Rennes arrived in the capital in seventh place in Ligue 1 following Lille's 2-0 win at Toulouse on Saturday night.

And the early skirmishes suggested they would stay in that position as PSG dominated possession and tried to crack through the discipline five-man back line.

Kylian Mbappe broke through the swept home mid way through the first-half but was ruled offside.

Two chances in two minutes for Mbappe - standing in as skipper for the injured Marquinhos - stirred the home support and offered further encouraging signs of frailty among the flinty five.


Messi brought a low save from Rennes goalkeeper Steve Mandanda after 32 minutes and the former France international belied his 38 years getting down swiftly to cut out Timothee Pembele's centre from the right wing as Mbappe lurked.

Rennes - seeking one of the spots leading to a place in next season's Europa League or Europa Conference League - seemed content with containment.

But on the stroke of half-time, the Rennes skipper Benjamin Bourigeaud spotted Karl Toko Ekambi's dash though the heart of the PSG defence and lofted a pass for the Cameroon international who thrashed past the PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma.


Partisan hopes of a recovery suffered a blow just after the restart. Lesley Ugochukwu set up the PSG old boy Arnaud Kalimuendo-Muinga for Rennes' second.

The 21-year-old, who spent 10 years at the Parc des Princes before leaving at the start of the season in search of more game time, celebrated the strike joyously with his teammates.

And the visitors looked more likely to score the game's third goal. And though Rennes squandered chances to humiliate their hosts, they did not pay the price for their lack of precision.

Mandanda brilliantly turned Marco Verratti's drive round the post and exploited his vast experience to gather loose balls theatrically and eat up time.

Mbappe gallantly led several players towards the Auteuil stands housing the diehard fans to applaud their support. Most had left.

Rennes, as a result of the suprise victory, recover sixth place and Marseille, who play on Sunday night, can cut PSG's lead at the top to seven points if they win at Reims.

Originally published on RFI

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