After a crushing defeat in the north-east of England, PSG were able to get their European campaign back on track with an assured performance at home, against a Milan side who were effectively neutralised by the hour mark.
A belaboured start from the hosts afforded the Rossoneri with time and space to settle into the game at their own pace – midfielder Rade Krunić in particular standing out. A litany of errors when building out from the back handed several opportunities to Stefano Pioli’s men, with Rafael Leão seeing a shot whistle wide of the post after twenty-five minutes.
A misfiring start would be of little consequence, though. On the hour mark, the teenage Warre Zaïre-Emery decided to take matters into his own hands and stormed through the midfield – shrugging off two Milan players in the process – before playing Mbappé through. The France captain, facing Rade Krunić, would keep his marker at bay and find the net with a low, near post finish – a classic Mbappé strike.
Luis Enrique’s men would strike again right after the break, as Ousmane Dembélé sweeped home after a lightning-quick break – only for the goal to be ruled out for a shove by Ugarte in the build-up. A second goal would indeed come minutes later – the former Barcelona winger once again involved, as his low shot was parried by Mike Maignan straight into the path of Randal Kolo Muani for a simple, close-range finish.
There was no way back for the Italians – the only attacking threat would come from Rafael Leão meandering solo runs, and some wayward crosses – none of which would ever reach Olivier Giroud. PSG would eventually wrap up the win with a goal from substitute Kang-in Lee, with Zaïre-Emery once again providing the assist.
While the collapse in Newcastle is not yet a distant blip, tonight’s display does offer some much-needed reassurance, with PSG returning to the top of Group F. Luis Enrique’s honeymoon period may not be over just yet.
PSG player ratings:
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 7 – Coming up against his formative club, the Italian initially looked to be struggling when put under pressure when PSG built out from the back. He was not forced into a mistake, though, and was authoritative in keeping the Rossoneri out in the second half.
Achraf Hakimi, 7
Marquinhos, 6 – Faced a tough battle up against Leão and mostly came out on top. His technical ease was important in releasing pressure during build-up play, in the midst of a shaky first 20 minutes for the hosts.
Milan Škriniar, 6
Lucas Hernández, 6
Warren Zaïre-Emery, 7 – It’s scarcely believable that the midfielder doesn’t turn 18 until next March, given the consistently assured performances he turns in both on domestic and continental stages. He was once again instrumental in breaking down an unflinching Milan defence with his incisive runs – his assist for Kylian Mbappé’s opener, which saw him fend off two defenders before threading the pass through, was the highlight of an impressive performance. Added another assist – to make it three for the European campaign – for Kang-in Lee’s goal at the end of the game.
Manuel Ugarte, 5 – PSG’s player of the season so far was slightly below his usually high standards, but remained a dependable presence in breaking up prospective Milan moves. Let down by some wayward passing and a barge on Musah which saw Dembélé’s goal ruled out after half time. Replaced by Fabián Ruiz.
Ousmane Dembélé, 6
Randal Kolo Muani, 6 – The Frenchman justifying his selection ahead of Gonçalo Ramos – some darting runs forward and precise link-up play providing an important outlet for the hosts. Scored the second goal of the game with a close-range finish. Replaced by Ramos for the final ten minutes.
Kylian Mbappé, 7 – Continued his return to form with a trademark sweeping finish inside the near post, and generally combined well with his attacking partners while confirming a return to his incisive best. Came close to a brace several times, notably hitting the post at the end of the game.
Milan player ratings:
Théo Hernandez, 4 – The French international was beaten several times by a resurgent Dembélé, but was mostly able to hold his ground and swung in several crosses from the left – none of which could meet Olivier Giroud’s head.
Rafael Leão, 5 – The former Lille man was incisive in the opening exchanges of the game and managed to get a couple of shots away. His influence on the game understandably diminished as a more assured PSG display in the second half deprived Milan of further opportunities to counter.
GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin