PARIS, France, Sep 1 – Kylian Mbappe scored the decisive goal but was later sent off as Paris Saint-Germain survived a major scare, and the concession of a VAR-awarded penalty, to win 4-2 at Nimes in Ligue 1 on Saturday.
Neymar and Angel di Maria, the latter direct from a corner, had PSG two goals up at the Stade des Costieres, only for their newly-promoted opponents to haul themselves level heading into the final 20 minutes.
But Mbappe struck in the 77th minute, his fourth goal in three appearances since winning the World Cup, to break Nimes hearts before Edinson Cavani completed the scoring in injury time.
However, there was still time for Mbappe to be sent off right at the death following a clash with Teji Savanier, who was also dismissed, in a remarkable finish to the game.
PSG have now won all four Ligue 1 games this season under new German coach Thomas Tuchel. They are three points clear of Dijon, whose own perfect start to the season ended with a 2-0 home defeat against Caen.
“It was a great victory. The atmosphere here in Nimes is crazy. The pitch was terrible,” Tuchel told beIN Sports.
Mbappe risks a lengthy ban after his red card, but he insisted he had no regrets.
“If I had to do it again, I would and I would apologise to all the supporters and to everyone,” Mbappe said, claiming the initial challenge by Savanier “doesn’t belong on a football field”.
PSG, who will face Liverpool in the Champions League group stage, had been busy in the transfer market before the European window closed on Friday night, completing the surprise signing of Cameroon forward Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.
The 29-year-old joined on a free transfer after leaving English second-tier club Stoke City, and agreed a two-year deal to follow Spanish left-back Juan Bernat, signed from Bayern Munich.
Neither player featured here, however, and Tuchel’s other summer recruits, Gianluigi Buffon and German defender Thilo Kehrer, started on the bench.
Nimes, the former club of Eric Cantona and Laurent Blanc, are back in the top flight this season after a 25-year absence and stunned near-neighbours Marseille in their last home outing.
– Four in four for Neymar –
However, PSG looked to be on course for a comfortable victory after Thomas Meunier played a one-two with Mbappe before crossing low for Neymar to score in the 36th minute.
It was a fourth of the season for the Brazilian, and was followed before the interval by Di Maria netting direct from a corner, curled in from the right and helped on its way by the Nimes goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni.
Nicknamed the “Crocodiles”, Nimes bit back after the restart as substitute Antonin Bobichon sent a first-time shot high into the top corner in the 63rd minute, and they were level soon after.
Thiago Silva’s clumsy, late challenge on Theo Valls was not initially spotted by referee Jerome Brisard but he gave a penalty after consulting with the Video Assistant Referee, new in Ligue 1 this season.
Savanier scored from the spot, and Nimes nearly went in front when Sofiane Alakouch struck the top of the bar.
With PSG on the ropes, Mbappe rescued them 13 minutes from time as he controlled Presnel Kimpembe’s long ball forward and blasted home on the volley.
All that was missing was a goal from the other member of Tuchel’s all-star front line and Cavani duly delivered at the death as he converted from a Julian Draxler assist.
Mbappe marred his and his team’s afternoon, though, when he violently shoved Savanier to the floor in anger at a foul by the Nimes player, as both teams ended the game with 10 men.
The 19-year-old, who could previously do no wrong this summer, will now definitely miss PSG’s next Ligue 1 game against Saint-Etienne.
Monaco host Marseille on Sunday, while Lyon were beaten 1-0 at home by Patrick Vieira’s Nice on Friday.