regular-article-logo Friday, 02 June 2023

French league: PSG wilt as Lens turn on the style

PSG’s weakness against the counterattack was ruthlessly exposed by Lens

AP/PTI Paris Published 03.01.23, 05:33 AM
Kylian Mbappe.

Kylian Mbappe. File picture

French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain crumbled under pressure to lose 3-1 at Lens for their first defeat of the season as second-placed Lens cut the gap to four points and maintained their perfect home record.

PSG’s weakness against the counterattack was ruthlessly exposed by Lens. The northern side scored at the start of each half and dominated the midfield battle against a rattled PSG to make it nine straight home victories for coach Franck Haise’s side. Lens has the league’s best defence with 11 goals allowed in 17 matches, compared to 13 for PSG.


Haise celebrated his 100th game in charge by grabbing a microphone and singing a club anthem with the jubilant fans. Closely knit with their supporters, Lens have strong working-class roots from their history as a mining community and are known as Les Sang et Or (The Blood and Gold) for their yellow jersey and red shorts.

Lens won their only league title in 1998. The first goal came in the fifth minute.

Lens used their strong pressing game to win the ball and moved it wide left to Florian Sotoca, whose goal-bound cross was palmed away by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma only for winger Przemyslaw Frankowski to volley home.

The lead was short-lived as forward Hugo Ekitike, given a rare start in the absence of Neymar and Lionel Messi, scored from close range.

PSG were without Neymar, through suspension, and World Cup winner Messi, who is returning to training after an extended stay back home in Argentina.

PSG’s weakness against rapid attacks was exposed when midfielder Seko Fofana won the ball near his own penalty area and threaded a 40-metre pass to Lois Openda. He expertly cut inside defender Marquinhos before slipping the ball under Donnarumma.

PSG star Kylian Mbappe was kept quiet, with the league’s 13-goal top scorer mustering only a speculative shot in the 60th.

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