PSG shake off the dust in 9-0 romp at Le Havre
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French champions Paris Saint-Germain warmed up for their tilt at a domestic treble with a 9-0 rout of second division Le Havre on Sunday night.
Fielding their garlanded roster of stars such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Mauro Icardi and Angel di Maria, PSG were 5-0 up at half-time thanks to braces from Neymar and Icardi. World cup winner Mbappé was also on the scoresheet.
After four months without competitive action, PSG boss Thomas Tuchel made 10 changes to his side at half-time.
It was still one-way traffic. Two goals from Pablo Sarabia as well as strikes from Idrissa Gueye and Arnaud Kalimuendo added the gloss.
The match drew the biggest crowd for a game in one of Europe's 'Big Five' football nations since the coronavirus pandemic took root in March.
Outgoing French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu was among the 5,000 spectators at the 25,000 capacity Stade Ocean. "It is a victory for French football, sport in general," she said.
Return of fans
"I am delighted that football in France can resume in a popular way, with more people in the stadiums. It is the only country in western Europe to be able to do this."
The tickets, priced between 30 euros and 60 euros, sold out in six minutes.
"It's a bit like a return to normal life, even if there are some drastic conditions," said Johan Vattier, president of Les Barbarians Havre, the club's biggest supporters group.
"We don't give a damn about PSG, this match is first and foremost a way to get back together with our mates!”
"It's not easy for a group like ours to enforce the rules because we're used to cramming together, but we're going to try to respect them as much as possible," he added.
"We want to start next season with fans in the ground."
The French government relaxed the health protocols before the weekend to permit a total match attendance of 5,000 people, including players, journalists and staff.
Unlike Germany, England, Italy and Spain, France declared its league season over in April. When the other four countries resumed their leagues, they did so behind closed doors.
PSG are due to play Saint-Etienne in the French Cup final on 24 July and Lyon in the French League Cup final on 31 July. Both showdowns will be at the 80,000-seat Stade de France in Paris.
Maracineanu said the attendance limit would be reviewed on 18 July and would be adjusted so it was proportional with the size of the stadium.
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