Paris Saint-Germain extended their Ligue 1 lead to 13 points with a 4-3 home victory against Bordeaux on Sunday, but the French champions were again exposed at the back and had Neymar sent off.
A Marquinhos double, Edinson Cavani‘s 200th PSG goal and a goal by Kylian Mbappe put the capital side on 65 points from 26 games but they lost captain Thiago Silva to a muscle injury and Neymar picked up a second yellow card for a late challenge in stoppage time.
After the match Cavani said: “Yes, this is a very special moment — after a sincerely difficult January. I am here, as I say all the time, to give my maximum and to try to continue to have a great season with the team.
“I am also like this, a bit emotional, because I am looking at my family — they always push me and love me.”
Third-placed Rennais beat visiting Nimes 2-1 earlier on Sunday to reduce the gap to second-placed Marseille to eight points.
Five days after losing 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund in a Champions League last-16 first leg, PSG did little to reassure their fans, but Marquinhos was optimistic about the return leg in Paris.
“We still have three games. Of course, we want to play this match,” the Brazilian said. “However, we must not think too much about it until it happens. Otherwise, it will be tough like it was here. We have to take it step by step, day by day. We will improve where we can, speak about what we should do and then arrive at this game in the best possible conditions.”
The players had “Stay Strong China” written on their shirts to show their support for the victims of the coronavirus that has killed more than 2,000 people in China.
In a tough first half, Silva limped off the pitch in the 16th minute with a muscle problem and was replaced by Idrissa Gueye.
Hwang headed home from Nicolas de Preville’s corner as the PSG defence were caught off guard in the 18th minute, only for the hosts’ all-time best scorer Cavani to level with a header from Angel Di Maria’s cross seven minutes later.
The hosts increased the pressure and Cavani hit the woodwork before Mbappe forced Benoit Costil to make a superb save at the half hour.
Marquinhos deflected Di Maria’s free kick with his shoulder to put the home side ahead three minutes into added time in the first half, only for Pablo to equalise one minute later in farcical fashion.
Second-choice Sergio Rico’s clearance from Marco Verratti’s back pass bounced on to Pablo’s knee and into the goal.
PSG, however, accelerated after the break and Marquinhos put the French champions ahead after 63 minutes, poking home the ball after Costil had parried a Cavani header into his path.
Six minutes later, Mbappe doubled the advantage from close range after being set up by Cavani.
PSG were kept on their toes until the final whistle as Pardo found the top corner with a superb strike seven minutes from time.
“[The win] was the most important thing right now,” said manager Thomas Tuchel. “Clearly, there are things to improve. However, we can see that the players are human and lack a bit of confidence after a loss — a major defeat in Dortmund.
“That is how it is, but it is also the same for many European clubs. Mentality and confidence can always be hard to rediscover after a loss. With a win, next week will be easier as we can train. We are playing next Saturday, which is good for us.”
Tuchel also addressed Neymar’s sending off, calling it “bizarre” after a rough challenge on Yacine Adli saw the Brazilian handed a second yellow.
“If we are to talk about the second yellow card situation, we must speak about the entire thing,” Tuchel said. “Neymar goes one-on-one, his opponent does something I have never seen and commits the foul, which brings the fourth official on to the pitch. There was no yellow card, the match continued and the fourth official was still on the pitch! I have never seen that.
“After that, Neymar is angry. He did not have to do what he did, but he is human — he is upset by the decision. Then, he commits the second foul and gets a yellow card — not the person who made the first foul. The referee … the situation was really very bizarre.”