PSG vs. Lille score: Di Maria leads late comeback; sporting director says Pochettino critics are ‘too much’


Paris Saint-Germain opened up a provisional 10-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit on Friday with a 2-1 win over defending champions Lille OSC at Parc Des Princes thanks to late Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria goals after Jonathan David had given LOSC a first-half lead.

It looked as if the Canada international’s eighth goal of the Championnat season would be enough after Lille reached the hour mark still ahead, but Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men were ultimately undone by a late burst of Di Maria magic with a little help from Neymar and Marquinhos.

With Kylian Mbappe out with an infection and Marco Verratti injured once more, PSG looked short of ideas for the majority of this matchup between last campaign’s two title rivals — which is much in keeping with this term so far under Mauricio Pochettino.

The Argentine cuts a beleaguered figure at times even though Les Parisiens are romping clear at the Ligue 1 summit and top their UEFA Champions League group which also contains Manchester City.

However, when you see how PSG play with the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar on the pitch, it is easier to understand why Pochettino is under fire. Friday’s match was further evidence in a growing case file of the capital outfit scraping by while doing the bare minimum.

For large stretches of this encounter, the hosts were lethargic and incapable of attacking with real intent or guile and looked vulnerable at the back with Juan Bernat still working his way back to fitness on the left and an awkward Thilo Kehrer on the right.

The midfield packed plenty of muscle but little to no creativity and it was largely workmanlike as they tried to shield the back line yet offered little to get the ball forward which resulted in Neymar dropping deeper to get onto the ball.

In the end, it was Di Maria who emerged as PSG’s star man when he provided a perfect ball in for Marquinhos to crash home and then exquisitely combined with Neymar before finishing clinically to complete a 14-minute turnaround.

That it was the lesser mentioned of the two Argentina internationals on the pitch for the home side on Friday who made the difference should come as no surprise as Di Maria threatened best in the first half after another glorious exchange featuring Neymar and Messi.

It was a rare exception to the general rule, though, which was once again to prioritize the result over any sort of constructive play which prompted sporting director Leonardo to come out in defense of head coach Pochettino after the final whistle.

“With the coach, the critics are too much,” Leonardo says. “We are searching, everyone is searching. Mauricio Pochettino was top five before he came, though, and now he is what? Nothing? Everyone needs time.”

Leonardo also allayed fears that Sergio Ramos remains some way off a potential debut and dismissed it as the Spanish media trying to create problems for PSG after a tense summer which ultimately saw Mbappe miss out against Lille.

Few can argue with Pochettino’s results at present, but it feels like individual brilliance has been riding to his rescue for some time now when it ultimately was not enough for predecessor Thomas Tuchel.

Unless PSG suddenly start beating teams as convincingly as their 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the Champions League, then expect the South American to remain under scrutiny and for Zinedine Zidane to continue being linked with a return to France.





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