For more than an hour of their Ligue 1 encounter with Lille on Friday evening, Paris Saint-Germain were decidedly second best. Mauricio Pochettino’s men did eventually take all three points, though, thanks to a piece of genius from Brazilian superstar Neymar.
Last season’s French champions took a deserved lead into half-time at the Parc des Princes. Jonathan David fired home from a Burak Yilmaz to give the visitors the lead on 31 minutes, but Lille’s advantage could easily have been greater at the break.
PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma was forced into a number of quality saves, while his opposite number Ivo Grbic had very little to deal with during the opening period.
The hosts struggled to put much of note together in an attacking sense in the first 45 minutes, with Lionel Messi again having a poor night. The Argentina captain – who had been struggling with a muscle injury in the build-up to the match – was replaced by Mauro Icardi before the start of the second half.
Still trailing, PSG were in need of some inspiration as the match entered its final 25 minutes – and found it in the form of both Neymar and Angel Di Maria. The pair were an ever-increasing threat to Lille as the game wore on and those efforts were rewarded when Di Maria delivered a fine cross for Marquinhos to equalise with 16 minutes remaining.
From that point on, it was all PSG as the home side pushed for a winning goal. When it arrived with only two minutes left of normal time, a magical assist from Neymar meant it was more than worth the wait.
The 29-year-old has been experiencing a lean spell in front of goal himself, but displayed every bit of his class with a deft touch to perfectly lay the ball off to Di Maria, who then swept it into the net to send the home fans wild.
Watch: Neymar’s incredible assist for Di Maria vs Lille
You can check out Neymar’s silky smooth work below:
His key role in PSG’s winner was vindication for Neymar, who has been criticised in recent weeks over his lack of goals for Pochettino’s men. He has now scored just once in seven Ligue 1 games this season, but stated after the match that he pays little attention to his detractors.
“It was a very difficult game. We had a good team in front of us. We fought until the end, we scored. Well done to everyone, I am happy,” said Neymar per getfootballnewsfrance.com
“Criticism is normal. I’ve been playing pro football for 15 years and I don’t care about it. I am my biggest critic. They don’t know what goes on, what we do,” he declared.
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