PSG ease past Dijon without banned Neymar as Lille eke out win over Nantes - GulfToday

PSG ease past Dijon without banned Neymar as Lille eke out win over Nantes


Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during their French League match on Saturday. Reuters

Kylian Mbappe was in the thick of the action, scoring a brace and providing an assist to set up an emphatic Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) 4-0 win over Dijon sans banned star Neymar in a French League match on Saturday.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Lille edged past Nantes 1-0. With the victory, Lille climbed to the  fourth spot with 43 points. They are one-point behind Rennes, who are third with 47 points.

Earlier, it was Pablo Sarabia, who opened the scoring with a stupendous strike in three minutes to put leaders ahead 1-0 in the absence of Neymar, who is serving a one-match ban after being given a red card in the last game.

Dijon, who defeated PSG 2-1 at home in November, are facing relegation threats but managed to hold out the leaders for 70 minutes before PSG added a second through Mbappe.

The France international then set up Mauro Icardi for a third goal just moments after the Argentine came on as a replacement for Edinson Cavani. Mbappe bagged his second and PSG’s fourth in stoppage time as Thomas Tuchel’s side preserved their 13-point lead over Marseille at the top of the table.

“It was a good match. We were able to score quickly which settled us down,” said PSG captain Marquinhos, who admitted his dismay at the decision to scrap the customary pre-match handshakes as part of safety measures related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The players also made their way into the ground via a side door, ditching the traditional entrance in front of dozens of supporters.

“We don’t like that too much,” said Marquinhos.

“As a Brazilian, I like contact, the energy of people. We don’t like to stay in our corner. But you have to be vigilant to stay healthy.”

PSG travel to Lyon on Wednesday for a French Cup semi-final and play Strasbourg next weekend, with the return leg against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on March 11.

“The group absolutely wants to show against Dortmund that it’s capable of taking this step forward,” said Tuchel.

“They’re having a very consistent season with lots of wins and strong performances. We can’t lose confidence in this team. The players have shown this week they want to play that game, and they did again today.”

The hosts were already without Marco Verratti due to suspension and injured skipper Thiago Silva, and lost Angel Di Maria to a thigh problem early in the first half.

Tuchel said he was confident Di Maria would make a swift recovery, adding the decision to take him off was one of precaution.

By that point PSG were already leading through Sarabia’s ninth goal of 2020 -- and PSG’s second quickest of the campaign -- after he redirected a mishit shot from Marquinhos.

Dijon goalkeeper Alex Runarsson produced a number of saves to keep the visitors in touch, but he was eventually beaten again when Mbappe rounded the Iceland international following a slick ball through from Julian Draxler.

Mbappe turned provider when he helped the ball across for Icardi to apply a sharp finish on 74 minutes. He then increased his league-best goals tally to 18 in stoppage time after a scramble in the area.

Elsewhere, Rennes moved four points clear of Lille in the race for the third and final Champions League spot with a 2-0 win at bottom club Toulouse.

Montpellier climbed to fifth following a 3-0 victory over Strasbourg while Monaco drew 1-1 at home to Reims despite a Wissam Ben Yedder penalty -- his 17th goal of the season.

Angers won 1-0 away to Brest while Metz defeated Amiens 1-0 on the road.

Marseille strengthened their grip on second place on Friday as Dario Benedetto scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 win at lowly Nimes.


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