PSG got what they deserved at Rennes, admits Pochettino as Ligue 1 title hopes fade
Mauricio Pochettino has not given up on winning Ligue 1, but conceded Paris Saint-Germain got no less than they deserved against Rennes as their title hopes took a hit following a 1-1 draw.
Neymar celebrated his new four-year deal with PSG by scoring a contentious penalty to put Pochettino's team ahead on Sunday, only for Serhou Guirassy's fine header to seal a point for Rennes.
PSG were in fact lucky not to lose, with Presnel Kimpembe seeing red late on and Keylor Navas pulling out some impressive saves to keep it at 1-1.
The draw leaves PSG three points behind Lille with two games remaining – no team has ever been crowned Ligue 1 champions with such a gap at this stage – and the title may well be wrapped up next week should the capital club drop points against Reims and the leaders beat Saint-Etienne.
Indeed, it is not just the title PSG have to worry about, with their place in the Champions League no certainty.
PSG edged possession (57.8 per cent) against Rennes, but their tally of 12 attempts was seven fewer than the hosts managed, while only four of them were on target – Bruno Genesio's European hopefuls, who were without key midfielders Steven Nzonzi and Eduardo Camavinga, managing 10 in total.
"A lot can still happen, we are disappointed, but we have to give credit to Rennes, who had a very good game," PSG head coach Pochettino in his post-match news conference.
"We have to win the next matches to hope for something. We were not better than Rennes over 90 minutes, we did not deserve to take three points.
"It's a season with a lot of ups and downs, we arrived four months ago to help the club. A club like PSG must always think in the future. Every club thinks of improving, decisions will be made at the end of the season, we always think of improving."
While Neymar toiled, he was not helped by the absence of Kylian Mbappe, who was suspended – albeit he has been struggling with an injury which kept him from featuring against Manchester City in the Champions League midweek as PSG lost in the semi-finals.
Asked if Mbappe's absence was a major factor in the poor performance, Pochettino replied: "We must not think that we did not win because of an absence."
PSG have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight Ligue 1 fixtures, conceding 11 goals in total, making it their longest such run since a streak of 11 top-flight matches back in 2012.
The frustration boiled over heading towards the dying embers, with France centre-back Kimpembe lunging in on Jeremy Doku and receiving a straight red.
"We see frustration with the result, he arrives late. We are professionals, we know our responsibilities, our obligations," Pochettino said.
PSG captain Marquinhos, however, did not hold back.
"We will play what we have left to play. We have a Coupe de France to go for and the championship to continue to put pressure on Lille," he told Canal+.
"We have to go 100 per cent. It is unacceptable to leave points like that when we are Paris Saint-Germain. It can happen once, twice, but it's starting to happen a lot. We have to be sincere, it's not our best season, we weren't very strong. We have to do a lot better at the end of the season."