Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino declared himself “satisfied” with what he saw from Neymar in the Ligue 1 leaders’ 0-0 draw with rivals Marseille in Le Classique.
Neymar returned to the squad after missing PSG’s Champions League win over RB Leipzig on Tuesday with a groin injury and started up front alongside Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi on Sunday.
That reunion did not produce the desired effect, with the vaunted attacking trio unable to find the net away to Marseille at the Velodrome.
PSG were forced to play with 10 men from the 57th minute, when star full-back Achraf Hakimi was sent off.
That tactical disadvantage forced Neymar to drop back into the midfield after Thilo Kehrer replaced Angel Di Maria just past the hour.
Neymar gave way himself in the 83rd minute, as Georginio Wijnaldum came on to see out the draw.
It was the first 0-0 between Marseille and PSG at the Velodrome in Ligue 1 since November 1998, the end of a 21-match run.
“After the sending off, a choice needed to be made, and at that point, we thought we had to bring on Kehrer and bring Neymar back as a third midfielder,” Pochettino told reporters.
He added: “I am very satisfied with Neymar’s game, he has sacrificed a lot for the team after returning from the Brazilian national team and being inactive.”
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) October 24, 2021
Neymar played all 90 minutes in Brazil’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Uruguay during the international break, producing a goal and two assists as Brazil won the latter fixture 4-1.
Though the Brazilian has not scored for his club since September 19, PSG have plenty of options.
PSG are unbeaten in their last nine trips to Marseille in Ligue 1 (W6 D3), and remain on a run of three clean sheets at their rivals in the top flight – a first in their history.
None of them came through on Sunday, but Pochettino sounded an upbeat note afterward.
“There are several positive things to take from the game,” he said. “The team was solid, it showed character, it was well-organised with and without the ball.
“It’s a shame to have played with 10 men for nearly 40 minutes. But even in these conditions, we controlled the game.
“We don’t want to celebrate the point because there’s a bitter feeling with this game. But there were some good things from an attacking point of view, we just lacked in finishing. I think we were a bit better than OM, not by much, but we deserved to win.”
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