Paris, Berlin: Montpellier put on a spirited and gritty display to hold Paris Saint-Germain to a goalless draw as the French league leader dropped their first points of the season on Saturday.
PSG, which won its previous six league matches but met Montpellier without the injured Neymar, was uninspired throughout and saw its lead over defending champion Monaco cut to just one point. Monaco thrashed Lille 4-0 on Friday.
“We came here to win ahead of Bayern’s visit, it was very important,” said PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, referring to Bayern Munich’s trip to Paris in the Champions League next week. “We need to forget this game.”
Montpellier’s defensive strategy worked well throughout the match and prevented PSG from creating chances. The hosts deliberately left the ball possession to the opposition, and PSG players struggled to adapt to the poor pitch at Stade de La Mosson.
Pressing high on the pitch, the hosts played aggressively and were able to launch fast counter-attacks. PSG’s three-man midfield of Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot and Thiago Motta often looked clueless and static.
In the absence of Neymar, who was ruled out with a minor toe injury but is expected to play against Bayern, Kylian Mbappe was the most dangerous PSG player.
The France international had PSG’s first shot at goal in the 47th minute when he forced ‘keeper Benjamin Lecomte to a good save, and caused problems to Montpellier defenders with his dribbles.
PSG sped up the tempo after the interval and Mbappe had another good chance a few minutes later with a header wide from Thomas Meunier’s cross. Fatigue took hold of the hosts in the final half-hour as they gave the ball away too easily, but they managed to weather PSG’s disorganised assaults.
“We are happy with this point, not many teams will be able to achieve this,” Montpellier captain Vitorino Hilton said.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed a hat-trick as Borussia Dortmund romped to a 6-1 home thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach to regain top spot in the Bundesliga.
Gladbach had no answer to Peter Bosz’s fleet-footed Dortmund, who opened a two-point lead over Hoffenheim at the top in a perfect confidence boost before Tuesday’s Champions League clash with holders Real Madrid.
Aubameyang, last season’s top scorer in Germany’s top flight, has now netted eight goals in six league games — one ahead of main rival Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich.
Left winger Maximilian Philipp scored Dortmund’s first two goals before Aubameyang’s hat-trick, with defensive midfielder Julian Weigl scoring a superb sixth.
“We were very dominant. It was an intense game and we can be very satisfied,” said Philipp, who also scored two goals against Cologne last weekend.
Weigl was delighted to score on only his second game back from injury.
“It feels great, the goal was the icing on the cake,” said the Germany midfielder.
“We were lucky that Gladbach did not use their chances and usually they have the quality to fix problems.”