Neymar strikes twice as PSG hold on to beat Bordeaux
Neymar suggested that speculation about his decline was premature with two sharply taken first-half goals on Saturday as Paris Saint-Germain hung on to win 3-2 at Bordeaux in Ligue 1.
The Brazilian had only scored one goal for PSG this season, and that was a penalty in September, but he struck from open play in the 26th and 43rd minutes, both times set up by Kylian Mbappe.
“He played a very good game,” said PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino. “He scored two goals. It’s important for an offensive player to score.”
Mbappe also scored as, in the absence of injured Lionel Messi, the two superstars made the difference in a well-balanced game.
For his first goal, Neymar collected a floated pass on the left of the penalty box, stepped inside and unleashed a shot between two defenders inside the post.
Neymar again cut in for the second, dancing past several defenders before exchanging passes with Mbappe and hitting the return the first time, low and again just inside the post.
Speculation had swirled around Neymar’s appetite for the game since he said in October that next year’s World Cup in Qatar would be his last as he “doesn’t have the strength to put up with more football”.
Mbappe added a third in the 63rd minute after PSG caught Bordeaux’s defence high up the field.
With defenders trailing far behind, Georginio Wijnaldum raced through on goal, drew keeper Benoit Costil and side-footed the ball to Mbappe for a tap in.
The brilliance of the two stars seemed to have settled the match, but Bordeaux hit back.
Alberth Elis gave the home team late hope when he scuffed home a 74th-minute goal after PSG gave the ball away trying to play out of their own penalty area.
Two minutes into added time, M’Baye Niang finished off a pacy attack scooping home his first goal for Bordeaux after a sharp exchange with Jimmy Briand in the box.
But PSG had barely kicked off again when the whistle sounded.
“We made two mistakes, the goals came from those two mistakes,” said Pochettino.
“We could have killed the game much earlier,” he added. “We can’t lead 3-0 and let in two goals.”
PSG moved 10 points clear of second-place Lens, who thrashed Troyes 4-0 on Friday. Nice, who host Montpellier on Sunday, are another point further back.
Earlier, champions Lille continued to struggle to hold a lead in Ligue 1 as they conceded an 83rd-minute goal and drew 1-1 at home against Angers.
A week after they led away to PSG until the 74th minute only to lose, Lille went ahead when Tiago Djalo struck in the 28th minute, slotting home from a free-kick by Renato Sanches.
But they allowed a late equaliser from Azzedine Ounahi who calmly finished from a far-post cross by Sofiane Boufal.
Lille remains in 12th and are 18 points behind PSG.
“It’s a strange feeling,” said Lille coach Jocelyn Gourvennec. “We dropped two points while we had the feeling we were in control of the game but it was not fluid either.”