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Emery optimistic Neymar will make Champions League clash

Chinadaily / Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar is attended to by medical staff after sustaining an ankle injury during PSG’s 3-0 Ligue 1 victory over Marseille on Sunday.Stephane Mahe / Reuters PARIS – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery remains optimistic that superstar Neymar will be fit to face Real Madrid in its do-ordie Champions League clash despite sustaining an ankle injury in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Marseille.

Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, was stretchered off 10 minutes from time at Parc des Princes as PSG opened up a 14-point lead in Ligue 1.

The 26-year-old was on his own when he innocuously rolled his ankle and flopped to the turf in pain.

“The first examination in the locker room revealed that it was a twist to the ankle. Now we will do a medical examination to find out what this twist is,” said Emery, whose team needs to overturn a 3-1 deficit when it faces Real in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on March 6.

“We will wait for the examination, we will be optimistic. If I had to say today (whether or not he will face Real) I would rather say yes to being optimistic.”

PSG skipper Thiago Silva added: “Neymar already had a swollen ankle. I’m not a doctor, but I don’t think he’ll be available on Wednesday (when PSG faces Marseille again in the French Cup). He has to rest.”

It was an otherwise easy night for the big-spending Parisians as teenager Kylian Mbappe became the youngest scorer in the French ‘Classique’.

Uruguayan goal-machine Edinson Cavani was also on the scoresheet, while Neymar had a hand in PSG’s other goal.

All of PSG’s three closest rivals dropped points over the weekend, with Monaco drawing 3-3 at Toulouse on Saturday and Lyon held 1-1 at home to local rival Saint-Etienne earlier on Sunday.

Monaco remains second with Marseille third, two points back, and Lyon a further five adrift.

The result was never in doubt and Emery even had the luxury of bringing off Mbappe after an hour to give Argentine international Angel Di Maria some game time.

PSG got off to a flying start through Mbappe but Marseille was in part the architects of its own downfall.

In the 10th minute, France midfielder Adrien Rabiot tried to thread a through ball to Mbappe, who was cutting in from the right.

Former Aston Villa fullback Jordan Amavi was in place to intercept, but he slipped and only succeeded in helping the ball onto 19-year-old Mbappe, who sliced inside onto his left foot before depositing a low shot inside Yohann Pele’s near post.

As expected, the host was dictating the tempo and dominating possession, but Neymar was off target with a header from a Dani Alves cross.

The second came before the half-hour mark, and again owed much to poor Marseille defending.

Layvin Kurzawa slipped Rabiot into the inside-left channel in the visitor’s box and he found Neymar with a cut-back.

The forward’s poked finish was heading off target until his compatriot and Marseille centerback Rolando thrust out a boot and inadvertently directed the ball into the goal.

The match was as good as over and PSG had barely needed to break sweat.

After Neymar was stretchered off, speedy substitute Clinton N’Jie almost gave Marseille hope but, having rounded goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, his goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by Silva.

Areola also made smart saves to deny Florian Thauvin and Luiz Gustavo, but Marseille’s spirited finish was too little too late.

Agence France-presse

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