PSG wins big again as Neymar continues to honor Kobe Bryant

Agence France-Presse
PSG wins big again as Neymar continues to honor Kobe Bryant
Neymar and PSG remain atop Ligue 1 with a dominant win over Montpellier

PARIS, France – Neymar continued to paid tribute to late NBA icon Kobe Bryant as he helped Paris Saint-Germain clobber the undermanned Montpellier, 5-0, in Ligue 1 on Saturday, February 1. 

The Brazilian, wearing a shirt bearing the name of Bryant – who was killed in a helicopter crash last week – and his No. 24, delivered an assist in the win that put PSG 13 points clear of Marseille atop the standings. 

Last week, Neymar dedicated his goal in a 2-0 win over Lille by flashing the No. 24 with his fingers. 

But PSG coach Thomas Tuchel expressed concerns over Neymar and the lavish birthday celebration he staged.

Neymar hosted a party on Sunday to celebrate his 28th birthday at a Parisian nightclub, despite his team playing again on Tuesday against Nantes.

“It’s a distraction, that’s clear,” said Tuchel. “I always want to protect my players, and if there are difficult things to talk about, I prefer to say them internally.

“These are distractions, and they give the impression we are not serious, not professional. But I don’t really want to talk about it because then, these things become big issues.”

While Neymar did not score, he produced his usual tricks and provoked the opposition. 

He even required lengthy treatment at the end of the first half after appearing to hurt his ribs as he grappled for the ball with Montpellier’s Arnaud Souquet.

Unhappy with the some of the treatment reserved for him, Neymar was booked for dissent in the first half and was then caught by television cameras angrily remonstrating in Portuguese with an official in the tunnel at halftime.

Mbappe anger at substitution

Tuchel was also forced to answer questions about Mbappe’s angry reaction to being taken off midway through the second half, as Edinson Cavani came on for a first appearance since a January move to Atletico Madrid fell through.

“It doesn’t look good, but we are not the only club where players react like that,” the coach said.

“This team shows how professional and focused they are every day, but this gives the impression it’s not always like that and I’m sad because it’s not necessary.”

“I explained to him why he came off and that will be that. I always make decisions for sporting reasons. This is football, not tennis, and you have to respect everyone.”

Sarabia was selected ahead of Mauro Icardi and Cavani to start with Mbappe up front, and the former Real Madrid player curled home a fine opener from 22 yards in the 8th minute for his 10th goal of the season.

Montpellier’s hopes of getting back into the game were then as good as over when goalkeeper Dimitry Bertaud was sent off in the 17th minute for coming out of his box to stop Mbappe bearing down on goal, only to block the ball with his arm and receive a straight red.

On came young debutant goalkeeper Matis Carvalho and he had to pick the ball out of his net twice before the interval.

Di Maria lifted the ball over him and in to make it 2-0 in the 41st minute, and shortly afterwards, Teji Savanier’s attempt to clear a Di Maria corner rebounded off the face of defender Congre and in.

After Neymar cooled down at the break, he set up Mbappe to round Carvalho and score his 14th league goal of the season.

Kurzawa drilled in the fifth in the 65th minute and the visitors were reduced to 9 men late on as substitute Joris Chotard saw two quick yellow cards. – 

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