PSG held to a 1-1 draw after Reims equalized at half-time – Naharnet
Striker Folarin Balogun equalized deep into the break as Reims drew 1-1 with French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, keeping PSG three points clear of second-placed Lens.
Balogun, who began his career at Premier League side Arsenal and stood out throughout the match with his movement, latched on to a long pass in the sixth minute of injury time. He easily beat veteran defender Sergio Ramos for pace before confidently firing past goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It was the 21-year-old forward’s 11th league goal of the season and one less than PSG’s goalscorer Neymar.
Neymar struck in the 51st to move one behind league top scorer and team-mate Kylian Mbappé, before PSG midfielder Marco Verratti was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Japanese winger Junya Ito in the 59th. Verratti returned from a thigh injury when he came on in the second half.
Midtable Reims extended their unbeaten run to 12 games, which included holding PSG to a 0-0 draw at home in October, and were the better side in the first half.
Donnarumma almost gave away a goal after 23 seconds when he hacked a pass straight at his opponent but got away with it.
Balogun went close midway through the first half and team-mate Marshall Munetsi – a midfielder with Zimbabwe – also caused problems for PSG’s static defence.
Referee Ruddy Buquet awarded Reims a penalty shortly after Neymar’s goal for a foul on Balogun, but changed his mind after a video review.
Finally, Balogun had his say.
PSG have won just one of their last four league games, losing two, and coach Christophe Galtier acknowledged that is a problem.
“We were stunners in the first half, we were split quickly and we were on the back foot,” he said. “We abandoned our defense.”
Since the World Cup, PSG have won just two of their five league games and both have been against strugglers. PSG needed an injury-time penalty from Mbappé to beat Strasbourg 2-1, and it beat bottom Angers 2-0. With a much tougher test against Bayern Munich looming in the last 16 of the Champions League, PSG need to improve quickly.
Either side of the game against Bayern on February 14, PSG have two away games against bitter rivals Marseille, in the French Cup and in the league. Marseille are just five points behind PSG in third place.
Earlier, striker Gaetan Laborde scored the winner as Nice beat Lille 1-0 to end the northern side’s six-game unbeaten run.
Laborde scored in the 34th minute after Badredine Bouanani intercepted a poor back pass and ensured a first-time finish. Lille had not lost in the league since 30 October.
Alexandre Lacazette scored his 12th league goal of the season as Lyon won 2-0 at Corsican side Ajaccio to move up to ninth.
Tempers flared after the game when Lyon coach Laurent Blanc grabbed Ajaccio coach Olivier Pantaloni’s face after they had shaken hands and pushed him away after a verbal exchange.
Pantaloni, who played for Ajaccio as a striker in the 1990s, then walked over to Lyon’s bench and clashed with Lyon’s goalkeeping coach Rémy Vercoutre. Security officials had to separate them as angry home fans stormed the dugout.
Lacazette interrupted his post-match TV interview when a lighter thrown from the crowd landed near him. Vercoutre had to be escorted off as fans insulted him and some tried to get onto the pitch.
The visitors took the lead in the 20th when 20-year-old midfielder Johann Lepenant turned in Bradley Barcola’s pass.
Lacazette, who rejoined his hometown of Lyon this summer after five seasons in the Premier League with Arsenal, scored his 144th goal overall for the club in the 72nd. France’s 2018 World Cup winner Corentin Tolisso and Argentina’s World Cup-winning left-back Nicolás Tagliafico combined to set him up.
Dutch striker Thijs Dallinga scored twice for Toulouse in a 2-1 win at struggling Strasbourg.
Veteran striker Kevin Gameiro put the Alsace side ahead in the 20th, but Dallinga equalized for Toulouse five minutes later and struck again early in the second half.
Strikers Jérémy Le Douaron and Steve Mounie scored first-half goals for Brest in a 4-0 home win against bottom team Angers. Midfielders Franck Honorat and Pierre Lees-Melou scored after the break.
England striker Stephy Mavididi scored both goals as Montpellier earned a much-needed 2-0 win at 19th-placed Auxerre to escape relegation trouble, and Clermont drew 0-0 at home to Nantes.