Paris Saint-Germain’s defence of their Ligue 1 title got off to the perfect start with an emphatic 5-0 win at relegation favourites Clermont Foot.
Christophe Galtier’s first league game in charge of the Parisians could hardly have gone any better as PSG ran out resounding victors at the Stade Gabriel Montpied.
After a fast Clermont start, PSG nearly took the lead when Neymar met a low cross from Achraf Hakimi, but Alidu Seidu scampered back through the penalty area to make a block.
The mercurial Brazilian only needed a second chance to find the net however as the champions took a ninth-minute lead. Pablo Sarabia just about kept a long ball in behind alive and his cutback was flicked on by Lionel Messi and into Neymar’s path, finishing with aplomb from 20 yards.
Debutant Vitinha curled an effort from a similar distance just wide soon after before Hakimi doubled the lead on a swift counter, with Messi and Neymar combining before the Brazilian turned provider for the wing-back, who fired into the roof of Mory Diaw’s net.
Diaw made a stunning save to deny Sergio Ramos’ bouncing header from a corner minutes later, though was unable to deny Marquinhos when he nodded in a Neymar free-kick.
Messi nearly added a goal of his own in first-half stoppage time, but Diaw’s outstretched arm pushed his near-post strike behind and referee Jeremy Stinat mercifully brought the opening 45 minutes to a close.
After the break, Clermont nearly levelled when Komnen Andric turned and struck a rocket towards the top corner, but it whistled past the post.
Nuno Mendes nearly had his first PSG goal when he bustled through the box to meet Hakimi’s deep cross, but Diaw threw out a hand to keep him out.
The visitors almost literally walked their fourth in when Messi and Neymar waltzed into the Clermont area, with the latter rolling it back across the face of goal for his Argentine teammate to tap in.
Messi grabbed his brace with minutes left on the clock after meeting a clever dink over the top from Leandro Paredes, finding the net with a wonderful overhead kick.
Juan Bernat and Messi were kept out by Diaw in the dying embers as the match finished without any added time to put Clermont out of their misery.
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 5/10 – Didn’t have much to do, but was nervy with the ball at his feet.
CB: Sergio Ramos – 7/10 – Played with the aggressiveness and authority that he’s become revered for.
CB: Marquinhos – 8/10 – Commanded the backline excellently and was a threat on set pieces.
CB: Presnel Kimpembe – 7/10 – Did his job with little fuss.
RM: Achraf Hakimi – 9/10 – A supreme performance. Tormented Clermont’s left side all night long with his pace and trickery.
CM: Vitinha – 6/10 – Didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength as his new teammates.
CM: Marco Verratti – 6/10 – Seemed strangely sluggish and off the pace.
LM: Nuno Mendes – 7/10 – Struggled to control the ball at the back under pressure at times but he stretched play to help create space for Messi and Neymar.
RF: Pablo Sarabia – 7/10 – Played on the periphery to his two star-studded partners in attack, but that was understandable.
LF: Neymar – 10/10 – Vintage Neymar. The Brazilian had the ball on a string and made Clermont dance to his tune. Might be disappointed to only grab one goal and three assists.
CF: Lionel Messi – 10/10 – This central role suited Messi perfectly, dropping deep to link up with Neymar and pull Clermont apart at will.
SUB: Nordi Mukiele (67′ for Ramos) – 6/10
SUB: Leandro Paredes (67′ for Vitinha) – 7/10
SUB: Hugo Ekitike (78′ for Sarabia) – N/A
SUB: Juan Bernat (78′ for Mendes) – N/A
SUB: Warren Zaire-Emery (82′ for Verratti) – N/A
Manager: Christophe Galtier – 8/10 – Can’t fault anything the new boss did or didn’t do. PSG were at their formidable best.