Ligue 1 roundup: PSG grab late win to open early 6-point lead
PARIS (AP) On a frustrating day for the world’s two most expensive players, and with the club’s top scorer rested, it was unheralded defender Thomas Meunier who got Paris Saint-Germain’s goals in a 2-1 win at Dijon on Saturday.
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe cost PSG a combined $478 million when they joined in the offseason. They had an off day, although Mbappe made some amends by setting up Meunier’s winner in the second minute of injury time.
It was the attack-minded right back’s fourth goal in four games, including one for Belgium last weekend in a World Cup qualifier.
“I always try and follow things up, that’s my style,” Meunier said. “I love bringing something to the attack.”
The win moved French league leader PSG six points clear of defending champion Monaco, which lost at Lyon 3-2 on Friday.
PSG was without Edinson Cavani — left out after playing for Uruguay in World Cup qualifying this week — but carved out enough chances to win easily.
PSG was coasting to victory until the 87th minute, when Dijon launched a hopeful ball up the field, forcing PSG center half Marquinhos to hack clear. The looping ball fell to forward Benjamin Jeannot some 35 yards out and he hit a tremendous left-footed volley over the head of goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
Then Mbappe’s cross fell to Meunier on the edge of the area, and his low shot squeezed through the legs of defender Oussama Haddadi and over the line.
“We fought hard the whole game and showed that we could stand up to PSG,” Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet said. “We got back into the game in an incredible way, so it’s a pity to concede that goal the way we did. We lost a bit of concentration.”
Dijon played with a high energy and harried PSG all over the pitch, forcing mistakes.
PSG’s frustration showed when Neymar was shown a yellow card for a cheap foul on Dijon defender Cedric Varrault.
Reynet made a stunning reflex save to push away Mbappe’s low volley and saved again moments later from Neymar’s strike, but could not recover in time to stop Meunier’s low shot slipping under his body in the 70th.
Saint-Etienne scored three late goals to beat Metz 3-1 and move up to third place, while Caen dropped down to eighth spot after losing 2-0 at home to Angers.
Guingamp moved up to ninth with a 2-0 home win over Rennes, but Lille’s struggles continued as it conceded an injury-time goal in a 2-2 home draw with Troyes.
Striker Andy Delort’s first-half goal sealed mid-table Toulouse a 1-0 home win against Amiens.
PARIS (AP) Montpellier continued its habit of troubling the leading teams by beating Nice 2-0 in the French league on Sunday.
Montpellier is unbeaten so far against the top three from last season. It has drawn against defending champion Monaco and runner-up Paris Saint-Germain and comfortably beaten Nice in successive games.
Benin attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon and Belgium forward Isaac Mbenza scored in the second half with their first goals of the campaign.
Sessegnon was once considered among the biggest talents in the French league when he joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2008, but his career never really took off despite several years in the English Premier League with Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.
The 33-year-old Sessegnon showed a glimpse of his ability, however, with a ferocious strike from 25 meters (yards) that flew into the top right corner in the 55th minute.
The win moved Montpellier up to mid-table, while Nice drops down to a miserable 14th place after its fifth defeat so far.
Nice offered little threat, with Mario Balotelli well contained by the home defense. When the former Inter Milan and Manchester City striker did get a chance in the first half, he was thwarted by goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte’s sprawling save.
Nantes is resolute, well organized, opportunist and tough to beat under coach Claudio Ranieri.
Sound familiar? So was unheralded Leicester when Ranieri guided it to the Premier League title in 2015-16 in one of the greatest upsets in soccer history.
Ranieri has little hope of winning the French title this season, however, faced with the attacking power of Paris Saint-Germain.
After losing the first two league games, Ranieri’s side is unbeaten in seven and sits comfortably in fourth place following Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Bordeaux.