Youthful PSG without Messi, Mbappe & Neymar squeak past third-division Chateauroux in nervy Coupe de France contest
- Youthful PSG side struggled to create in 3-1 win
- Soler put PSG ahead after 79 minutes
- Messi, Mbappe, Neymar all out
TELL ME MORE: Hugo Ekitike opened the scoring early on, latching on to a through ball from Ismael Garbi and poking it off the post and into the net. Chateauroux pulled one back through Nathanael Ntolla, the winger's sliced shot taking an unfortunate bounce off E.C. Bitshiabu before trickling past Keylor Navas. The home side had further chances, with Navas twice called upon to keep Chateauroux out. But after a period of second half pressure, PSG had their moment. Vitinha lifted a ball to the back post, which Ekitike headed towards goal. Although Paul Delecroix made a fine stop to keep him out, Soler reacted first, turning home from short range to put the Parisiens ahead with 10 minutes remaining. Juan Bernat added a third in stoppage time, finding the bottom corner with a driven finish to secure a 3-1 win.
THE MVP: After being entrusted with a hefty role with PSG's usual front three out, Ekitike has quietly contributed. Though the Reims loanee isn't the most ball dominant of players, his movement around the box has been crucial in recent weeks. Such was the case on Friday night, as the striker opened the scoring with a clever diagonal run and finish. He perhaps deserved a second, too, but Delecroix diverted his header with a fine save from close range. Ekitike now has three goals in his last four games, and although he might not see many more starts this year, he's filled in admirably.
THE BIG LOSER: Pablo Sarabia is a confusing player. He's smooth on the ball, full of pleasing touches and deft faints, but doesn't always contribute much. And his impact here was admittedly limited. Though he received the ball in advanced positions with regularity, his final product was often severely lacking. He completed only three of his 10 crosses, and simply didn't offer the link up play with Ekitike that PSG needed. It wasn't his fault that the Parisiens had to endure a tricky 90 minutes - but he didn't necessarily help the effort.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? PSG play struggling Angers on Wednesday, hosting the basement dwellers while looking to build on a four-point lead atop Ligue 1. Messi and Mbappe are expected to return, but Neymar's status is unclear.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐