Kylian Mbappe: PSG didn't take Le Classique vs. Marseille serious enough
MARSEILLE, France -- Paris Saint-Germain attacker Kylian Mbappe has admitted that he and his teammates did not view this season's first meeting with Marseille as important enough ahead of Sunday's 2-2 draw.
Edinson Cavani rescued a point for PSG with a late free kick after Neymar and Luiz Gustavo traded first half goals and Florian Thauvin had given the hosts the late lead before Neymar saw red for two bookable offences.
Mbappe was poor on the night but speaking in the mixed zone after the final whistle, he suggested it was not a big deal for Unai Emery's men.
"We came through it alright thanks to Edinson's moment of magic," the 18-year-old said. "We had our backs against the wall until then. He got us out of a sticky situation. It was a complicated match. We were perhaps a little too relaxed to begin with.
"Marseille played well. They had been waiting for this game, while we needed to be looking forward to it a bit more. For them, it is the match of the season -- it did not carry the same importance for us. We must question ourselves from time to time. Perhaps there was a problem in the way that we worked towards the game.
"We should never feel above anything. We will know for next time how we will be welcomed. Maybe we did not give Le Classique the importance it deserved.
"I am French but the club has other objectives. When I signed, it was not just in order to win Le Classique. The aim is to win titles. First of all, in Ligue 1. We also want to win the champions League. We still have not lost since the start of the season.
"A one-off? We could say that. Marseille played very well. They did brilliantly and they must be congratulated. We were not at the same level we have been at since the start of the campaign. We did not do what the coach asked of us."
Speaking with Canal+ after his late free-kick equaliser, Cavani admitted PSG were in a desperate situation when he stepped up to score.
"It was an important goal because the match was almost over," said the Uruguay international. "Put simply, we needed it.
"It is difficult to play here with this atmosphere. It is good, there are many more matches to come and we took an important point. We have a lot of things we can work on. The path is long and there are many competitions. We must keep working hard.
"Scared to lose? That is football. Every match is difficult. We can win or lose. We must give everything on the pitch. We have to leave the pitch with our heads held high."
Coach Unai Emery felt that fighting back from a goal down twice proved PSG's character away against their fiercest rivals with no travelling supporters.
"In the first half, they scored with their only chance," he said. "We responded after the goal. We had good chances to score. As the minutes went by in the second half, our rhythm was normal.
"On the pitch, important players need to be protected. Throughout the 90 minutes, a lot of things were stopped by the referee, with fouls and a lack of rhythm, of a spectacle.
"After Marseille's second goal, it was tough. After the red card, even more so. This draw demonstrated our character. There was also a clear penalty that was not given. It was a clear chance for Kylian."
Midfielder Marco Verratti agreed with Emery and praised the mentality shown by him and his teammates.
"We knew it would be a complicated match," he said. "We showed a lot of character here because we came back to score twice.
"It is never easy to play here. It was a very intense game. We know we could have done more but the most important things is that we remain unbeaten. We need to continue like this."
Next up for PSG are Nice at home in Ligue 1 on Friday, before Anderlecht in the Champions League.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.