Neymar leads PSG to a big first victory in the French league

An unplayable Neymar netted a goal and three assists to lead defending champions Paris Saint-Germain to a 5-0 victory at Clermont in the French league on Saturday.

Lionel Messi also made a big contribution with two goals and an assist.

Neymar confused Clermont with his movement and skills. In the seventh minute, he pounced on a low cross from Achraf Hakimi to deflect an early effort by Alidu Seidu.

Two minutes later, Pablo Sarabia returned the ball to Messi, who sent it back to Neymar. The Brazilian striker controlled the ball before burying it in the bottom corner.

PSG took advantage of a quick break in the 26th minute when Neymar found Achraf Hakimi, who fired into the top corner.

Neymar scored the third goal with an accurate free kick for Marquinhos, who headed home in the 39th minute.

On the stroke of half-time, Neymar fed Messi, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Mory Diaw.

PSG slowed down a bit in the second half against a Clermont side that narrowly avoided relegation last season.

Messi still made it 4-0 in the 80th. He played a one-two with Neymar before scoring with a low strike.

The Argentine superstar sealed the victory in the 86th minute by shooting a ball over Leandro Paredes to score with an overhead kick.

“What I liked was the team’s desire to recover the ball very quickly, to play with a lot of intensity,” said PSG coach Christophe Galtier. “Leo reacts very quickly when losing possession, and Ney also made efforts in his defensive positioning to help the team stay very compact and get the ball back.”

Chasing a record 11th league title, PSG missed Kylian Mbappe, who suffered from a groin problem, and Renato Sanches, who was signed on Thursday and lacked fitness.

PSG have excluded from their matchday squad some top players they would like to remove: Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye, Rafinha, Thilo Kehrer and Layvin Kurzawa.

Meanwhile, Krepin Diatta and Sofiane Diop scored for a weakened Monaco to win at Strasbourg 2-1.

In a clash between contenders for European places, Diatta opened the scoring with a powerful volley from the edge of the area in the 43rd. The Senegalese winger could have added another goal in the 48th but Strasbourg goalkeeper Matz Sels saved his chip.

Diop, a France Under-21 international, doubled the lead by converting a rebound in the 53rd after Sels fended off a deflected cross from Gelson Martins.

Strasbourg striker Habib Diallo withdrew one in the 65th minute by heading in a cross from Thomas Delaine.

Monaco and Strasbourg finished third and sixth respectively last season.

Sels limited the damage by fending off Martins in the 35th minute, deflecting a point-blank shot from Jean Lucas on the post in the 61st and saving a descending header from substitute Maghnes Akliouche in the 85th.

Monegasque goalkeeper Alexander Nubel preserved the victory in added time by stopping a point-blank shot from Adrien Thomasson.

“We had chances to lead 3-0 and 4-0,” said Monaco coach Philippe Clément. “It’s about experience. It’s normal with young players, they have to learn lessons, they have to gain experience in such situations.”

Monaco missed Kevin Volland and Aleksandr Golovin, suspended, Takumi Minamino, Benoit Badiashile and Myron Boadu, injured, and Caio Henrique ill.

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