Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 Brest: Neymar strikes as champions return to Ligue 1 summit

·4-min read

Neymar scored the only goal of the game as Paris Saint-Germain returned to the top of Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win over Brest, though the French champions were indebted to Gianluigi Donnarumma following his penalty save.

The Brazilian volleyed home his eighth strike of the campaign after half an hour to settle a scrappy affair, maintaining the hosts' unbeaten start.

However, Christophe Galtier's side survived a scare in the final 20 minutes as Donnarumma kept out Islam Slimani's spot-kick to preserve their lead.

PSG have now won each of their last 10 league matches against Brest, and appear strong favourites for yet another title after extending their unbeaten home league run to 25 games.

Brest came under intense pressure inside the opening 20 minutes with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi all going close for the Parisians.

The visitors' struggles appeared set to worsen when Christophe Herelle received a red card for fouling Neymar, but they were reprieved after a VAR check revealed the PSG forward had strayed offside before the challenge occurred.

The Brazil international broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark, however, controlling Messi's wonderful lofted ball before firing past Marco Bizot.

The Brest goalkeeper did well to thwart Messi and Mbappe before the break, while the latter was also denied by the offside flag.

The woodwork then came to the visitors' rescue within five minutes of the restart; Messi heading against the post from Mbappe's cross.

Despite registering 14 shots on goal, PSG were almost made to pay for their lack of cutting edge in the 70th minute when Presnel Kimpembe fouled Noah Fadiga in the box.

However, Donnarumma guessed correctly to keep out Slimani from 12 yards and ensure his side's return to the Ligue 1 summit.

What does it mean? PSG back at the summit after denying Brest again

As well as moving back to the Ligue 1 summit, PSG maintained their fine record against Brest by winning a scrappy encounter; the Parisians have now beaten Brest 18 times in Ligue 1, the most defeats the visitors have suffered against a single side in the French top-flight.

Meanwhile, the leaders have beaten Brest in each of the duo's last 10 league meetings, only boasting a better such streak against Angers (12 straight wins) among current Ligue 1 teams.

Neymar settles it

Neymar, the top scorer in Ligue 1 this season, made another decisive contribution as he found the net for a fifth successive home league game.

Brest were previously the only team the Brazil international had faced in the French top-flight without ever registering a goal contribution.

But he ended that wait in style, controlling Messi's wonderful pass with a feather-like touch before brilliantly volleying home what proved to be the winning goal.

Messi inspires hosts

He may not have scored, but Messi played a key role as PSG returned to the top of the table.

His delightful assist for Neymar was one of a game-high four key passes from the former Barcelona man, while no player had more shots on goal (four, along with Mbappe).

Key Opta facts

- PSG are unbeaten after seven Ligue 1 games (W6 D1). This is the ninth time they have gone undefeated after their first seven games of a Ligue 1 season in the 21st century, and they have finished champions in seven of the previous eight such campaigns (2001-02 being the exception, when they finished fourth).

- PSG have won a Ligue 1 game by a single goal, with their opponents missing a penalty, for the fourth time in the QSI ownership era (since 2011-12) and for the first time since May 2019 at Angers (2-1).

- PSG have recorded three successive clean sheets, their longest run in a single season since January 2021 (also three).

- Messi provided his 21st assist in Ligue 1, more than any other player in the top five European leagues since the start of last season.

- Messi has hit the woodwork 13 times in Ligue 1 since the start of last season, at least twice more than any other player from the top five European leagues.

- Since the start of the 2021-22 season, Neymar has a positive differential of 6.11 in Ligue 1 between his goals (21) and his expected goals (14.89 xG), the highest among Ligue 1 players. Conversely, Messi has scored 6.95 fewer goals than expected in the top-flight (nine goals to 15.95 xG), the highest negative differential among current Ligue 1 players.

- Kimpembe has conceded each of PSG's last three penalties in Ligue 1.

What's next?

PSG travel to Israel on Wednesday to face Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League, while Brest return to Ligue 1 action at home to Ajaccio next Sunday.