OSAKA: Paris Saint-Germain’s Japan tour started with a whimper on Tuesday as they played out a 0-0 draw with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr in Osaka. Japanese fans flocked to stadiums to see Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar strut their stuff in a series of friendlies for PSG last year, but none of that trio was on show this time around.
Messi has departed for Major League Soccer side Inter Miami and Neymar has been out with a knee injury since February and only just returned to full training. Mbappe was sensationally left out of the squad on the eve of PSG’s departure for Asia, with his future at the club in doubt. Carlos Soler tried an ambitious free-kick from distance in just the second minute in Osaka, but Al Nassr goalkeeper Nawaf Alaqidi was equal to the attempt.
Noha Lemina broke in behind for PSG 20 minutes later but saw his effort skew wide of the near post. The biggest reactions from the relatively modest crowd of 25,432 in the first half were reserved for a couple of Ronaldo efforts. The first saw him denied from six yards by Gianluigi Donnarumma before an acrobatic overhead kick went wide of the target – although it wouldn’t have counted because he was offside.
The second half was broken up by a slew of substitutions by both sides, with Ronaldo departing after 66 minutes. Neither team was able to make a breakthrough, although PSG youngster Ilyes Housni looked lively after coming on and went close on a couple of occasions. PSG will next play Cerezo Osaka on Friday, before travelling to Tokyo to take on Inter Milan. Al Nassr will face Inter in Osaka on Thursday.- AFP