Paris Saint-Germain ended 2018 on a high with a 1-0 Ligue 1 win over Nantes at Parc des Princes on Saturday thanks to Kylian Mbappe’s second-half strike — his first as a 20-year-old.
It was such a dour match overall that the only real highlight for PSG was Mbappe’s goal as it proved decisive. Despite being nowhere near their best, Thomas Tuchel’s men eventually broke Nantes’ stubborn resistance and finish 2018 with a 13-point lead and at least one game in hand over their closest rivals.
Although there were a few, the fact that PSG ultimately dug out a result makes them irrelevant. The encounter had a strong end-of-year feel to it and while Tuchel is unlikely to tolerate similarly slack showings from the start of 2019, his players probably will not serve up too many either.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Tuchel went with his preferred 3-4-3 formation and although it did not produce the right performance because holiday mode had already set in, it ultimately earned the right result.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 — Made a couple of useful saves in each half to prevent sleepy PSG from falling behind.
DF Marquinhos, 6 — Despite a late booking, it was solid stuff both in defence and midfield.
DF Thiago Silva (c), 6 — Also cautioned towards the end, he was similarly resolute at the back.
DF Presnel Kimpembe, 6 — Put in his most convincing display for a while and formed a strong defensive bloc with the two Brazilians.
MF Thomas Meunier, 4 — Got forward plenty but was lacking end product in terms of crossing and finishing and logically made way for Thilo Kehrer towards the end.
MF Marco Verratti, 6 — Although PSG did not create nearly enough going forward, that does not mean that he was not scheming away behind the scenes.
MF Julian Draxler, 6 — Saw what would have been the opener ruled out via video assisted refereeing (VAR) but still paired well with Verratti in the middle.
MF Juan Bernat, 6 — Although it was nothing spectacular, it was still another convincing outing from a player who continues to grow in confidence as part of this team.
FW Kylian Mbappe, 6 — Fresh off turning 20 this week, it was fitting that he scored the winning goal and it just about salvaged an otherwise disappointing display.
FW Edinson Cavani, 4 — Did not get nearly enough service over the 90 minutes but he also fluffed his lines the one time he was put through on goal in the first half and was visibly irritated.
FW Angel Di Maria, 6 — Crashed a second-half effort off the crossbar and was at the heart of PSG’s limited creativity.
FW Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, N/R — Given the final 11 minutes in place of Cavani to stretch his legs, a more accurate pass from Mbappe would have given him a fairer chance to grab a rare goal.
MF Thilo Kehrer, N/R — Replaced Meunier and got involved physically from set pieces.
MF Dani Alves, N/R — Injected some energy late on but pretty much all of his teammates were already on holiday.