Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé couldn’t stop Paris Saint-Germain losing 1-0 at Rennes for a second straight away defeat in the French league on Sunday as its lead over second-place Lens dropped to three points. (More Football News)
PSG started with Messi and Neymar in attack before bringing on Mbappé — top scorer at the World Cup in Qatar — early in the second half but still managed only one shot on target in the whole game under driving rain.
PSG coach Christophe Galtier says he’ll use video analysis to better understand what’s going wrong with the team before making decisions.
“The images will speak for themselves,” he said, “after that there will be choices to make.”
Rennes defender Hamari Traoré showed how to finish in the 65th minute with a crisp low shot past Gianluigi Donnarumma into the bottom right corner.
Messi sent Mbappé clean through moments later but he decided against curling the ball past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, and instead fired over on his 200th league appearance.
Neymar was anonymous for most of the game, becoming more visible near the end to argue with Rennes defenders when it was too late.
PSG was expected to line up with Messi, Mbappé and Neymar for the first time since before the World Cup. But Galtier surprisingly started Hugo Ekitiké, with Mbappé on the bench, and with 16-year-old Warren Zaïre-Emery in midfield.
Rennes coach Bruno Genesio’s bold move paid off as he selected 18-year-old Lesley Ugochukwu and 17-year-old Désiré Doué in midfield, either side of Croatia’s Lovro Majer.
Brittany side Rennes again proved a tough opponent, having beaten PSG to win the French Cup in 2019 and beating PSG at home 2-0 last season.
“We knew we were in for a difficult game and so it proved,” Galtier said. “Rennes was far too comfortable in defense.”
Rennes stayed in fifth place because it needed to beat PSG by two goals to reclaim fourth on goal difference from Monaco — and to do so without last season’s 21-goal top scorer Martin Terrier. He is recovering from a right knee operation and out for the rest of the season.
Rennes fans held up a banner with “Martin, all the Rennes fans are with you,” and chanted his name.
Striker Arnaud Kalimuendo drew the first save of the game from Donnarumma in the 27th and Rennes forward Amine Gouiri called Donnarumma into action again late in the first half.
PSG looked devoid of ideas as it chased the game and, just like when it lost to Lens 3-1 on New Year’s Day, was dominated physically and lost most of the second balls.
Earlier, striker Wissam Ben Yedder scored a 14-minute hat trick as Monaco routed Ajaccio 7-1.
Monaco opened the scoring in the second minute through central defender Axel Disasi followed up.
Ajaccio was soon 2-0 down when midfielder Krépin Diatta tapped in Vanderson’s cross from the right.
Algeria striker Youcef Belaïli replied for Ajaccio. But Ben Yedder scored in the 21st and 28th minutes with neat finishes before completing his second treble of the season with a penalty in the 35th.
Substitute forward Breel Embolo added two late goals.
Lille’s strikers clicked in style with Jonathan David and Mohamed Bayo each scoring twice in a 5-1 win against Troyes.
David, who played for Canada at the World Cup, took his league tally to 12 goals — level in second place in the scoring charts with Lorient’s Terem Moffi and one behind Mbappé before PSG’s game.
Forward Alain Virginius also scored for Lille, while striker Mama Baldé grabbed a consolation goal for Troyes.
Montpellier finished with nine players in a 3-0 home defeat to Nantes marred by some crowd disturbances.
Following a 6-1 defeat at Nice in midweek, Montpellier’s angry fans let their feelings known by throwing flares onto the field early in the game. It was temporarily suspended as the referee led players off and started again 15 minutes later.
Things hardly looked up for Montpellier when Tunisia’s World Cup-scoring forward Wahbi Khazri was sent off for a clumsy challenge on 17-year-old Nantes midfielder Nathan Zézé. Deep into first-half stoppage time defender Andrei Girotto put the visitors ahead.
It got worse for Montpellier when striker Elye Wahi was sent off midway through the second half. Nantes made the most of it with striker Mostafa Mohamed and midfielder Ludovic Blas netting late goals.
Last-place Angers lost 2-1 at home to Clermont, which scored through Kosovo striker Elbasan Rashani and defender Neto Borges. Morocco’s World Cup winger Soufiane Boufal pulled one back for Angers late on.
Toulouse drew 1-1 at home to struggling Brest and Reims drew 0-0 with Nice in a midtable stalemate.
Lens and third-place Marseille both won on Saturday.