Four days after their 4-1 Champions League humbling at the hands of Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain travelled to Brittany to face their bogey team, Stade Rennais. PSG head coach Luis Enrique reverted to a more balanced 3-man midfield with Vitinha returning to the fray, notably to the expense of France international striker Randal Kolo Muani. The game lived up to the hype with the hosts going toe-to-toe with the Ligue 1 champions. Arnaud Kalimuendo got the first shot on target of the night, his powerful effort palmed away by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Les Rouge et Noir were oozing way more confidence in their game plan than Luis Enrique’s team. Stade Rennais were so coordinated in their pressing as well as in their positioning that it looked like PSG would need a spark of individual brilliance to break the deadlock. Such an occasion arrived when Ousmane Dembélé rolled back the years, zooming through the Roazhon Park pitch before finding Vitinha at the right edge of Rennes’ penalty box. The Portuguese stepped over and lashed a stunning curling effort in Steve Mandanda’s top-left corner.
Rennes took a blow and Les Parisiens doubled the lead minutes later. Promising 17-year-old midfielder Warren Zaïre-Emery chipped an inch-perfect cross for the unmarked Achraf Hakimi to head home from close range as Rennes left-back Jeanuël Belocian made a mess of the offside trap. The Moroccan looked to have handled the ball in the build-up though. A clinical PSG entered the break with a two-goal lead.
Les Parisiens were in cruise control and should have made it three when Gonçalo Ramos failed to convert a counter-attack engineered by a trademark Kylian Mbappé burst of pace. However, they were too lenient in defending, allowing Ludovic Blas too much time to cross for Amine Gouiri to head home. Rennes’ rebellion was short-lived. The rampant Hakimi again escaped the notice of the Rennes defenders to lay a perfect cross for Randal Kolo Muani, who scored only seconds after replacing Ramos.
PSG regained full control of the proceedings with Rennes looking beaten before the end’s conclusion. Bruno Genesio took advantage of the circumstances by adding some feel-good factor around Roazhon Park with Martin Terrier receiving a hero’s welcome, nine months after a serious knee and meniscus injury. Bradley Barcola and Mbappé failed to swell their team’s lead, but PSG showed enough quality and star power to inflict Rennes their first defeat of the campaign. The Ligue 1 champions have climbed up to third place, two points short of leaders AS Monaco. Rennes remain out of the European places.
Rennes players ratings
Steve Mandanda, 5
Lorenz Assignon, 5
Warmed Omari, 4
Arthur Theate, 4
Jeanuël Belocian, 3 – The 18-year-old’s inclusion was a bold choice from Genesio. Unfortunately, he struggled to match Dembélé’s and Hakimi’s pace and was at fault for the Moroccan’s goal for PSG. Genesio put an end to his agony by replacing him by Adrien Truffert after the hour mark.
Nemanja Matic, 6 – The Serbian midfielder was his side’s best player on the pitch, launching himself into tackles, cutting passing lanes as well as matching the PSG midfielders’ intensity.
Benjamin Bourigeaud, 5
Fabian Rieder, 4
Ludovic Blas, 5
Arnaud Kalimuendo, 5
Amine Gouiri, 6
PSG players ratings
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6
Achraf Hakimi, 7 – As usual, he often bombed forward on his right side, providing Dembélé with the overlap in Rennes’ half of the pitch. He scored PSG’s much-needed second goal minutes after the opener and perfectly set up Kolo Muani for the third. Had he prevented Gouiri from heading home, it would have been a complete performance.
Milan Skriniar, 5
Lucas Hernandez, 6
Manuel Ugarte, 6
Warren Zaïre-Emery, 7
Vitinha, 7 – With the Portuguese midfielder starting, Luis Enrique’s team is a way more balanced and coherent package, acting as a bridge between the strikers scarcely involved in pressing and the other PSG players. His hybrid role as an advanced left-sided midfielder looks tailor-made for him. The way he attempted, and managed, to find Mandanda’s top corner is a testament to his confidence.
Ousmane Dembélé, 6
Gonçalo Ramos, 3 – The former Benfica man had a hard time tonight. He squandered several opportunities to put the game to bed. Even worse, a loose pass from him enabled Rennes to work their way towards Gouiri’s goal. Replaced by Randal Kolo Muani (7) who immediately got up to speed to provide a poacher’s finish.
Kylian Mbappé, 4 – He stuck to the left touchline in the first half, but he was mostly kept at bay by Assignon. Played as a second striker alongside Ramos and Kolo Muani in the second half, with better results. He’s marginally improving, but he struggled to reach the heights he used us to. Skied a complete sitter after rounding past Mandanda and complaining more often than not to the referee.
GFFN | Bastien Cheval