Sunday, January 23, 2022

Ligue 1: Georginio Wijnaldum saves PSG late point in Lens as Kylian Mbappe switch by Mauricio Pochettino fails

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Paris Saint-Germain saved a scarcely deserved point on Saturday when Georginio Wijnaldum headed home late on to hold RC Lens to a draw at Stade Bollaert.

The result, fortuitous as it was, provisionally extends Les Parisiens’ lead at the Championnat summit to 13 points after Olympique de Marseille were beaten 2-1 at home by an unstoppable Stade Brestois 29 side just hours before.

Kylian Mbappe was dropped to the bench as Mauricio Pochettino searched for solutions to his team’s lack of fluency, but the French superstar did not appear to be the problem as PSG still struggled massively before falling behind to Seko Fofana’s strike which Keylor Navas misjudged.

The Argentine sent Mbappe on with 20 minutes remaining and he did go close to equalizing when his header was denied by Jean-Louis Leca as part of a sensational display from the home goalkeeper before Wijnaldum finally got the better of him late on to silence the raucous Lens fans.

Both sides had chances and hit the woodwork at least once through Lionel Messi and David Pereira da Costa, but Franck Haise’s men produced a far superior and enterprising showing which put their monied visitors to shame as they ambled along.

Lens were made to rue a string of missed chances but Fofana, Jonathan Clauss and Przemyslaw Frankowski all shone once more to illustrate the progress made by Les Sang et Or since their return to Ligue 1.

“It was physically difficult,” said Pochettino after the final whistle. “I think that a draw was deserved. We must give Lens credit. I like this team a lot because they play very good football. I tried several solutions to find the right formula. I tried to identify a solution in the face of massive pressure from Lens.”

“Lens are a team which is extremely brave,” added Verratti post-match. “It feels good to have matches like that with chances for both sides. Of course, we wanted to win, but it was also tough and both sides fought to the end.”

PSG are back in UEFA Champions League action this coming week but their Group A meeting with Club Brugge on Tuesday (12:45 p.m. ET | Paramount+) is nothing but a dead rubber with no potential for anything better than second place behind Manchester City.

Based on this evidence, the French capital outfit are not about to discover a new identity and start playing with any sort of coherence while Pochettino continues to rely on his players bailing him out at the last possible moment.

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