PSG bounces back from Barcelona humiliation with scrappy win
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 13, 2017 10:37 AM
Paris Saint Germain's Christopher Nkunku, left, celebrates with teammate Julian Draxler after scoring the second goal during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Lorient, in Lorient, western France, Sunday, March 12, 2017. PSG won 2-1. (AP Photo/David Vincent)
JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain responded to its Champions League humiliation against Barcelona by scraping past the worst team in the French league.
Sunday's 2-1 win against last-placed Lorient will do little to wipe away the embarrassment of making history midweek when PSG lost 6-1 to become the first side eliminated from the knockout stage after winning 4-0 in the first leg of the Round of 16.
That unwanted feat will always stick with PSG coach Unai Emery, who was given a vote of confidence following the defeat by president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. Emery's predecessor, Laurent Blanc, also got a vote of confidence but was fired last summer to make way for Emery's arrival from Sevilla.
However, victory does at least move PSG above Nice and into second place behind leader Monaco, which is three points clear. Monaco's significantly better goal difference effectively makes that lead four points, with nine games left for defending champion PSG to close the gap.
"Yes, we are a bit relieved," said PSG midfielder Christopher Nkunku, who scored the second goal. "The most important thing was to win."
PSG took the lead in the 28th minute, following Angel Di Maria's low corner. Benjamin Jeannot scored an own-goal as the ball skimmed off his shin and inside the near post as he challenged for it with PSG striker Edinson Cavani.
Cavani had gone close moments earlier when winger Julian Draxler's smart back heel played him clean through and his low strike forced goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte into a fine save, leading to the corner.
The 19-year-old Nkunku doubled the lead in the 52nd, beating Lecomte inside his near post with a shot from just outside the penalty area after good work from Cavani.
Lorient center half Michael Ciani pulled a goal back midway through the second half, rising above Brazilian center half Marquinhos and planting a firm downward header past goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
But this was Lorient, and not five-time European champion Barca, and there was no late collapse from PSG this time.
LYON 4, TOULOUSE 0
Memphis Depay showed just why Lyon signed him from Manchester United after lobbing the goalkeeper from near the halfway line.
Lyon is enjoying spectacular form, plundering 29 goals in seven games, including a 4-2 win against Roma in the Europa League on Thursday. That game featured brilliant goals from Corentin Tolisso, Nabil Fekir and Lyon's top scorer Alexandre Lacazette — but Depay's strike was even better.
Collecting the ball just inside the halfway line, Depay turned and swiftly went past two players. Without looking up, he clipped a delightful arcing shot that sailed over the head of goalkeeper Alban Lafont and bounced into the net.
"I saw the goalkeeper in the first half already standing (away) from his goal, so I kept it in the back of my head," Depay said. "I thought 'This is my chance' so I turned and shot. I didn't even see the ball go in, but I heard (fans) going crazy."
The precision with which Depay's lob was struck from halfway recalled England midfielder David Beckham's goal in 1996 against Wimbledon early on in his United career.
Depay was sold by United in January, after failing to hold down a place despite arriving with a huge reputation from PSV Eindhoven. He has now scored four goals in his last three games, and if he keeps up this kind of form he will inevitably be back in the spotlight.
Lyon's other goals came from right back Christophe Jallet and forward Maxwell Cornet.
The win keeps Lyon in fourth place and favorite to seal a place in next season's Europa League.
SAINT-ETIENNE 2, METZ 2
Center half Loic Perrin was the hero for Saint-Etienne, heading the equalizer in the fifth minute of injury time — a minute after clearing a Metz chance off his own line.
Metz took the lead in the first minute through Senegalese midfielder Ismaila Sarr, but Slovenian striker Robert Beric equalized for Saint-Etienne early in the second half.
Metz went back in front midway through the second half through defender Simon Falette.
Saint-Etienne is in seventh place, while 16th-placed Metz is four points above the relegation zone.