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Dublin: 9 °C Monday 19 February, 2018

Cavani rescues PSG after Neymar sees red in Le Classique

Neymar was sent off in Le Classique, but Edinson Cavani’s late equaliser rescued a point for Paris Saint-Germain at Marseille.

Cavani scored a dramatic late free-kick to earn a point.
Cavani scored a dramatic late free-kick to earn a point.
Image: Claude Paris

EDISON CAVANI BAILED out Paris Saint-Germain and the dismissed Neymar with a stoppage-time equaliser to secure a 2-2 draw against Marseille in Le Classique.

PSG trailed twice and had looked destined for a first defeat to their fierce rivals since November 2011 – with Neymar sent off for two bookable offences – before Cavani curled a dramatic late free-kick into the top corner to rescue a point.

Marseille led through Luiz Gustavo in the first half, before Neymar equalised, and then again moved in front when Florian Thauvin lit up a dreary second half.

But the greatest drama was still to come as Neymar – who had been jeered throughout and endured a host of missiles from the home supporters at one point – clashed with Lucas Ocampos moments after his first booking and received his marching orders.

Bouna Sarr squandered an opportunity to seal the points for Marseille and that would prove costly as Cavani – fouled by the substitute – netted a stunning strike to break Marseille hearts.

Cavani and Neymar have not always seen eye to eye this term, with the pair infamously arguing over penalty duties, but it was the Uruguayan’s set-piece expertise that ensured his team-mate’s indiscipline would not prove costly.

PSG have seen their lead at the Ligue 1 summit cut to four points by champions Monaco this weekend, but they remain unbeaten this term and, for that, both Neymar and Unai Emery must be relieved.

Layvin Kurzawa squandered the first huge opportunity of the night, blasting high over the crossbar after benefiting from a fortunate ricochet as Adil Rami stepped across to challenge on the left-side of the area.

A frantic pace contributed to a series of early stray passes from both sides and one such Hiroki Sakai error gave Cavani the opportunity to curl a low effort into Steve Mandanda’s grateful arms.

France Soccer League One Neymar was sent off for PSG. Source: Claude Paris

But the opener arrived at the other end after Neymar’s uncharacteristically poor first touch gifted possession to Rami. Dimitri Payet moved the ball square to Luiz Gustavo, who drove forward to arrow a magnificent strike into the bottom-left corner of Alphonse Areola’s goal.

PSG’s response should have been immediate, but Cavani contrived to blaze a seemingly simple close-range finish high and wide.

Neymar atoned for his earlier mistake after 33 minutes, however. Adrien Rabiot drew defenders away from the former Barcelona star and then slipped a pass back into his path for a precise left-footed shot that clipped the base of the right-hand post on its way in.

Rudi Garcia and Marseille could only have been pleased with their first-half play – despite the equaliser – but PSG assumed complete control after the restart.

Clear-cut openings were few and far between, though, and the first incident of note in the second period saw a delay as Neymar refused to take a corner as objects thrown from the stands rained down on that part of the pitch – the Brazilian eventually sending the ball in as riot police protected him with shields.

And, with PSG’s threat apparently fading, Thauvin struck. Substitute Clinton N’Jie crossed from the right and the former Newcastle United man nipped in front of Thiago Silva to prod into the net, sparking scenes of wild celebration.

PSG were dealt a further blow when Neymar pushed Ocampos to the ground – aided by an exaggerated fall – and Sarr could have sealed victory when he ran clear and shot at the legs of Areola.

There was one last chance for the visitors, though, and Cavani made it count. Stepping up to take a free-kick in what normally would have been considered to be Neymar’s territory, the forward struck gold and stunned the Velodrome into silence.

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