PSG again fails to seal French title after crushing 5-1 loss
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 15, 2019 07:12 AM
Lille's Youssouf Kone celebrates at the end of the French League One soccer match between OSC Lille and Paris-Saint-Germain at Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France, Sunday, April 14, 2019. Lille won 5-1. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press
Needing just a draw to win the French title, defending champion Paris Saint-Germain was humiliated 5-1 at second-placed Lille on Sunday.
For the second straight week, PSG fluffed a comfortable position.
PSG needed a home win against Strasbourg to clinch an eighth French title last weekend, only to draw 2-2.
This time, PSG striker Kylian Mbappe had two goals disallowed for offside. PSG lost two players to injury and had its goal scorer Juan Bernat sent off — all in a frantic first half.
But the way PSG capitulated after the break, letting in four goals, exposed glaring weaknesses in the team, notably on free kicks, and an ongoing lack of composure and fight when under pressure.
Mbappe gave a strong verdict on his team's shortcomings.
"We will win the league, but you have to lose in the right way. You can't let in three, four or five," Mbappe told Canal Plus television. "That's not normal. We have to show more personality, that's one of our faults and we have to fix that. When you play like beginners ... We have to stop losing like that."
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, however, was quick to disagree with Mbappe's comments.
"No, no, no," Tuchel told the broadcaster. "That's not the case. It's too easy (to say)."
Instead, Tuchel blamed injuries, missed chances, illness and refereeing decisions — even though both offside calls and the red card were accurate.
But there are clearly ongoing weaknesses in PSG's side. They were evident in another humiliating exit from the Champions League, when PSG went out in the last 16 to Manchester United despite winning the away leg 2-0.
PSG's defense was unable to contain outstanding Lille forward Nicolas Pepe , who scored the second goal and set up the fourth and fifth to underline Lille's brilliant teamwork.
PSG needs a win at Nantes on Wednesday to guarantee the league title, although a draw would in all likelihood be enough at the end of the season, given PSG's huge advantage on goal difference.
Lille strengthened its claim to finish in outright second place and qualify automatically for next season's Champions League — moving eight points ahead of third-placed Lyon with six games left.
The win had the crowd on its feet and the players danced jubilantly in front of their fans after the final whistle, while PSG's players trudged off despondently.
After Mbappe's second-minute tap in was ruled offside, Lille went ahead in the ninth when PSG defender Thomas Meunier deflected a Lille header into his own net.
Two minutes later, Mbappe expertly set up Bernat's volleyed equalizer and, just two minutes after that, Mbappe ran through and finished superbly — only for the flag to come up once again.
PSG lost center half Thiago Silva and Meunier to injury, with less than 25 minutes played.
Bernat got a straight red card in the 36th, pulling back Pepe as he sprinted through on goal. The decision stood after referee Benoit Bastien used a video review.
PACE AND POWER
Lille's forward line caused 10-man PSG constant problems.
Loic Remy and Jonathan Ikone combined well to send Pepe sprinting through from midfield, and he finished with aplomb in the 52nd for his 19th goal of the league campaign — second only to Mbappe's 27.
Jonathan Bamba rifled a powerful shot into the top left corner after getting behind PSG's defense in the 65th.
Star player Pepe then turned provider, setting up headers for defenders Gabriel and Jose Fonte.
Saint-Etienne kept the pressure on Lyon and Marseille in the race for third with a 3-0 home win against Bordeaux.
Saint-Etienne is two points ahead of fifth-placed Marseille and three behind Lyon.
Sixth-placed Montpellier beat Toulouse 2-1 and Rennes is 10th after a 0-0 home draw with eighth-placed Nice.
Lille president Gerard Lopez says Pepe will be sold next season.
The 23-year-old Pepe is among the most highly rated forwards in Europe and his transfer value is estimated at more than 50 million euros ($57 million).
"Four or five players will leave this summer. Nicolas Pepe's departure is certain," Lopez told French soccer show Telefoot on Sunday. "He's entering a price (salary) range we can no longer pay. He will have a lot of choices."
His value will have gone up after his performance against PSG.