Football: Youngsters fire PSG to win over Atletico as Di Maria makes cameo

Football: Youngsters fire PSG to win over Atletico as Di Maria makes cameo

Di Maria 2
Paris Saint-Germain's Angel Di Maria (in white) is confronted by two Atletico Madrid players during the International Champions Cup football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid in Singapore on Jul 30, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman) 

SINGAPORE: Angel Di Maria was arguably the biggest name on show in a game largely bereft of stars on Monday (Jul 30), but it was an unheralded trio of Christopher Nkunku, Moussa Diaby and Virgiliu Postolachi who gave Paris Saint Germain (PSG) a 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid in the final match of the International Champions Cup at the National Stadium.

A goal by 21-year-old Nkunku close to the half-hour mark had put the French champions ahead, before substitute Diaby finished well to double PSG’s advantage. 

Nkunku PSG
Paris Saint-Germain's Christopher Nkunku (right) celebrates scoring during the International Champions Cup football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid in Singapore on Jul 30, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman) 

Victor Mollejo pulled one back for Atletico in the 75th minute and an own goal from PSG defender Antoine Bernede looked to have taken the game to penalties. 

But a Postolachi goal in the dying embers saw the French side take the win, as both teams finished the tournament with one win and one loss.

Without the likes of Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar for their pre-season preparations in Singapore, the French champions welcomed Argentinian Di Maria to the side against Diego Simeone’s Atletico after he had jetted in on Sunday to join the team. 

Despite his late arrival, the Argentinian winger was well involved in the first half. He had PSG’s first chance of the game as early as the fourth minute, but his dipping freekick was stopped smartly by Atletico goalkeeper Antonio Adan.

Apart from that early foray forward from PSG, it was Simeone’s side who had the better of the early chances and they could have easily been two goals up by the 15th minute.

Di Maria
Paris Saint-Germain's Angel Di Maria reacts during the International Champions Cup football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid in Singapore on Jul 30, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman) 

Striker Kevin Gameiro was guilty of squandering both opportunities - the Frenchman first shot straight at Kevin Trapp and a few minutes later he blazed over with just the goalkeeper to beat. 

The game swung the way of Thomas Tuchel’s PSG, as the French champions had Atletico pegged back with a good spell of possession, but the best they could do was a Di Maria shot which was dragged wide.

Atletico finally came undone in the 32nd minute, Nkunku slotting home after an initial effort from Layvin Kurzwa was deflected onto his path.

A raft of substitutions at half time saw Di Maria, Adrien Rabiot and Marco Veratti among the players taken off, with the goalscorer Nkunku making way for Timothy Weah.

Eighteen-year-old Weah had impressed during PSG’s 5-1 loss to Arsenal and he was quickly causing problems for the Atletico defence. The American almost got himself on the scoresheet but Adan made a superb save. 

The game remained finely poised for both sides and Atletico could have got their equaliser in the 61st minute. This time, Luciano Vietto prodded wide when it looked easier to score.

Weah was the provider for Diaby as PSG found their second, the American played in his 19-year-old teammate neatly, and Diaby drilled in a shot past Trapp.

But Atletico found their goal minutes after, as substitute Mollejo knocked home a rebound. They then shocked PSG with an equaliser four minutes from time, as a cross into the box spun off a hapless Bernede and into the net.

As a visibly animated Simeone continued to urge his side forward on the touchlines, it was down to 18-year-old Postolachi to steal the headlines.

The burly forward hit the Spanish side with a sucker punch in the 92nd minute, curling in a shot to the delight of their supporters among the 22,007 crowd.

Source: CNA/ad(ra)

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