Paris Saint-Germain came back down to earth with a crash on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to FC Nantes in Ligue 1 just days after beating Real Madrid 1-0 in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 opening leg.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men were 3-0 down at half-time to Randal Kolo Muani, Quentin Merlin and Ludovic Blas goals before Neymar pulled one back early in the second half for PSG. The Brazilian superstar also saw a spectacularly weak penalty saved by Alban Lafont at Stade de la Beaujoire which cut short Parisien hopes of a comeback.
Pochettino’s starting XI boasted the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Marco Verratti, but the visitors found themselves 1-0 down inside the opening five minutes with Muani combining brilliantly with Moses Simon for the opener.
Merlin’s magical finish from an Osman Bukari assist doubled Les Canaris’ lead just after the quarter-hour mark to the delight of former PSG player and coach Antoine Kombouare, and Ludovic Blas made no mistake from the spot after a Georginio Wijnaldum handball before the break.
“We did not defend well on counterattacks,” admitted Verratti post-match. “We conceded three almost identical goals. Their goalkeeper also stopped a penalty and made some great saves — we created many chances. We deserved to fight back, and the penalty could have changed things. We are not happy.”
Referee Mikael Lesage played a part in multiple controversies during the encounter including a Dennis Appiah red card which was reduced to a yellow with the use of VAR and he awarded PSG a penalty on the hour after Neymar had already reduced the deficit after being teed up by Messi.
The Brazilian produced a pathetic effort which Alban Lafont saved easily, and it was the end of the scoring with Nantes running out 3-1 winners to boost their European hopes without doing much damage to PSG’s title march.
“We cannot even talk to the referee,” fumed Verratti about Lesage. “We cannot do anything. He is the only referee in the world who could do things like that. The penalty was a second yellow so red. This is where referees must take responsibility. We got dumped on here.”
Ultimately, though, Kombouare and his Nantes side were not undeserving winners and PSG once again produced an underwhelming performance off the back of a big Champions League clash — something the Italian felt played no role in the loss.
“We must give Nantes credit,” said Verratti. “It has nothing to do with Real because we were physically fine. We created chances over the 90 minutes. Now we have to look ahead to Saint-Etienne.”
Next up for PSG is that clash with Les Verts at Parc des Princes next weekend with the return leg against Real at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid coming in early March which will take on added importance if there are many more results like these.