The absence of Neymar coincided with Paris Saint-Germain losing their 100 per cent start to the Ligue 1 season as they were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at Montpellier.
World-record signing Neymar was ruled out of the trip to Stade de la Mosson with a reported foot injury and PSG were unable to pose the same threat that has seen them score 24 goals in six matches with him in the line-up.
PSG now hold just a one-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 after defending champions Monaco thumped Lille 4-0 on Friday.
Julian Draxler replaced Neymar in the front three and was at the heart of the brightest moments for Unai Emery’s side, but they ultimately paid the price for failing to make the most of their dominance in possession.
Kylian Mbappe, nominated for the 2017 Golden Boy award this week, was troublesome for Montpellier with his direct running causing problems, though his touch let him down when Marco Verratti – back from a three-game ban – released him in the box in the second half.
It was a common theme for PSG, who were denied a penalty when Pedro Mendes appeared to foul Edinson Cavani in the box in the closing stages and will need to improve when they entertain Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.
PSG started sluggishly but should have taken the lead in the 16th minute. Draxler dribbled to the right side of the box and cut a pass back for Cavani, who produced an air-shot from 12 yards to highlight his typically inconsistent finishing.
Mbappe switched from the left to right wing as he attempted to spark something by running at the Montpellier defence, but the resilient hosts continued to hold firm.
PSG started to improve and Thiago Silva failed to find the target with a header from a corner by Draxler, who also set up Mbappe as the teenager raced away on the left, beat Hilton and saw his shot blocked by Mendes.
It was goalless at half-time, though, after an in-swinging free-kick from Draxler proved too high for Thiago Motta and out of reach for Marquinhos at the back post.
PSG finally got a shot on target two minutes after the restart when Ellyes Skhiri ceded possession 20 yards from his own goal and Mbappe forced Benjamin Lecomte down to his left to make a save.
— PSG English (@PSG_English) September 23, 2017
There was more urgency about Unai Emery’s side and Lecomte got an important touch to a lofted cross from Mbappe that denied Cavani a simple tap in.
Verratti clipped an exquisite pass over the top for Mbappe, whose poor first touch denied him a chance to get a decent shot away. He still stabbed the ball into the centre and an attempted clearance deflected narrowly over off Lecomte, much to the hosts’ relief.
Emery sent on Lucas Moura for Draxler and replaced Thomas Meunier with Dani Alves and PSG were denied a penalty with 10 minutes remaining.
Mendes – already on a yellow card – sent Cavani tumbling in the box but referee Clement Turpin deemed there was a touch from the Montpellier defender, enabling them to hold firm for an unlikely point.
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