Thierry Henry’s disastrous start as coach of Monaco continued on Sunday as Edinson Cavani’s VAR-assisted hat-trick helped Paris Saint-Germain to an easy 4-0 win in the principality that saw them extend their perfect record in Ligue 1 this season.
Neymar netted a penalty to complete PSG’s victory, as they made it 13 wins from 13 league games under Thomas Tuchel, further stretching their start to the season that is a record in France and in Europe’s so-called big five leagues.
The result for them came after a week marred by revelations from French investigative website Mediapart that youth scouts at PSG had subjected potential signings to racial profiling over several years.
But while they go 13 points clear of second-placed Lille at the Ligue 1 summit, the club who have been their main challengers in recent seasons continued their deeply worrying slump, with Henry again left to look on helplessly from the touchline.
Champions in 2017, Monaco are in the relegation zone and five points away from outright safety having failed to win in six matches in all competitions since the Arsenal and France great took charge.
They have now gone 16 games without a win altogether, with this result following a 4-0 home reverse against Club Brugge which knocked them out of the Champions League.
Monaco are on their worst run in France’s top flight in 32 years, at a time when Football Leaks claims about their Financial Fair Play breaches and the arrest of their Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev on corruption charges have cast a further shadow over the club.
“We are playing for survival, nothing else,” said Henry, who has picked up a squad cursed by injuries.
– Injury curse –
Here he was missing a dozen players due either to injury or suspension at kick-off, while both Belgian international Nacer Chadli and his replacement Jordi Mboula had to come off hurt.
“We lost two more players tonight, so it is starting to become a lot,” he said, adding: “I am staying positive because even with all that we managed to create chances against PSG.”
The average age of his bench here was under 19, while his starting line-up featured a 17-year-old debutant in defence in Benoit Badiashile. It was little wonder that PSG — themselves showing six changes following their Champions League draw at Napoli — found the going so easy.
They went ahead in the fourth minute when Neymar drove the ball across goal for Cavani to convert.
The goal was initially disallowed before being given by the Video Assistant Referee, and the same thing happened in the 11th minute when Cavani turned the ball in again after the flag was wrongly raised for an offside against Moussa Diaby.
In contrast to those two goals, a fine Julian Draxler finish in first-half stoppage time was initially given before being disallowed on review.
However, Diaby squared for Cavani to complete his hat-trick in the 54th minute, and Neymar then rolled in a penalty after Kylian Mbappe had been fouled by France teammate Djibril Sidibe.
“I am very satisfied with the result, and with the fact we showed the hunger to win a 13th straight game. That is extraordinary,” said Tuchel.
“Monaco and Henry are in a very difficult situation with lots of players out injured. This wasn’t the night for Monaco to challenge us. They can do that if they have all their players back but not today.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Lucas Ocampos and Adil Rami scored as Marseille bounced back from a run of four straight defeats to beat Dijon 2-0 on an emotional afternoon at the Velodrome.
A minute’s silence was held before kick-off in memory of the eight people killed when two buildings collapsed in the southern French city on Monday.
The result lifted Marseille up to sixth, back to within three points of third-placed Montpellier, who beat them 3-0 last weekend.
Bordeaux were held to a goalless draw by Caen, while Rennes drew 1-1 with local rivals Nantes.