Neymar sinks Toulouse

Afp, Paris

Neymar scored the only goal as Paris Saint-Germain ground out a 1-0 victory at Toulouse on Saturday in their final tune-up for next week’s Champions League showdown against holders Real Madrid.

The runaway French league leaders stretched their advantage over Marseille to 13 points courtesy of Neymar’s 19th Ligue 1 goal of the season midway through the second half in Toulouse.

Unai Emery’s team will now turn their focus to Wednesday’s first leg of their heavyweight last-16 tie against Cristiano Ronaldo’s faltering Real in the Spanish capital.

Neymar returned to the PSG line-up after sitting out Tuesday’s French Cup win over Sochaux, but Edinson Cavani, the league’s leading scorer with 21 goals this term, missed the trip south with a hip complaint.

Lassana Diarra came in for his first start in the league as Unai Emery elected to rest both Marco Verratti and captain Thiago Silva ahead of the visit to the Bernabeu.

Presnel Kimpembe, filling in for Silva in central defence, forced 19-year-old Toulouse goalkeeper Alban Lafont into a terrific early save from point-blank range after latching onto a low cross from Neymar.

Former Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo also threatened for Toulouse as Alphonse Areola parried his diving header following a left-wing cross by Max Gradel.

But the first half was largely played in the Toulouse half, with Lafont producing an excellent fingertip save to deny Kylian Mbappe and then sticking out his right boot to keep out Neymar. But Neymar delivered the breakthrough on 68 minutes when he gathered Di Maria’s crossfield ball, twisted his way past Steeve Yago, and fired in a shot that took a wicked deflection off Issa Diop to beat Lafont.