A confidence boost
THE MATCH : PARIS TRAVEL FIRST CLASS!
It was billed as "the match before" the trip to the Bernabeu in four days' time, but leaders knew the visit to a jam-packed Stadium would require their full attention. Alban Lafont set the tone early with a save from Presnel Kimpembe (5'), and though Paris dominated possession (75% in the first 15 minutes), Yaya Sanogo still managed to get a header on target that needed Alphonse Areola to be on alert (13'). Lassana Diarra, on his second start, was often the catalyst of Paris' forward momentum, finding Kylian Mbappé and Neymar Jr with regularity as they starred in the first half along with the over-worked Lafont. The Toulouse goalkeeper denied Mbappé (26') and then instinctively kicked away a Neymar close-range effort (39'). Angel Di Maria's viciously inswinging corner was also not quite good enough to beat Lafont, who kept the scoreline goalless at the break almost single-handedly (45+1').
Neymar Jr had enjoyed himself in the first game this season against Toulouse, and he accounted for half of Paris' efforts on goal (6 of 12) by the hour-mark, including a shot that grazed a post (54') and a free-kick he sent desperately close to the top corner (61'). Eventually, his persistence paid off. After Di Maria had switched play, the Brazilian finally found a way past Lafont (0-1, 68'). He then struck a post (78') and the crossbar (79'), but had already done enough.
THE IMAGE: NEYMAR JR SETS THE STANDARD!
Ninety-six hours before the UEFA Champions League date with Madrid on Valentine's Day, the Paris number 10 has hit cruising altitude. After the hour mark, he dominated the game, scoring a great solo goal (68') before testing the woodwork twice in quick succession. He might have had more goals, but his stats are still mightily impressive: he now has 19 goals and has been involved in 30 league strikes this season in just 18 appearances.
Paris' winter tour continues with success after a fourth away triumph in 11 days in all competitions. It was also their 21st win in 25 league games, which puts them provisionally 13 points clear of the field. Now, it's time to think about how to send Madrid head over heels on Wednesday.