Messi leads PSG to record-tying 10th French league title
PARIS (AP) — Boos at halftime were replaced by raucous cheering at fulltime when Paris Saint-Germain clinched a record-tying 10th French league title after drawing with Lens 1-1 on Saturday.
Lionel Messi, in his first season with PSG, controlled a pass from Neymar before curling home from the edge of the box in the 68th minute to pacify frustrated PSG supporters.
Lens substitute Corentin Jean equalized with a sliding effort in the 88th, but the draw was still good enough for PSG to claim an eighth Ligue 1 crown since 2013.
The team had an unassailable 16-point lead over second-placed Marseille with four games left.
PSG tied the record of 10 league titles set by Saint-Etienne in 1981. Last year, PSG was pipped to the post by Lille.
“We didn’t win (the league) last season, that hurt us a lot,” PSG captain Marquinhos said. “So we must enjoy this title as much as we can.”
Messi came to PSG in the offseason when Barcelona couldn’t afford to keep him. He won a club-record 35 trophies at Barcelona, including 10 La Liga titles.
PSG was booed at the interval by its supporters after a lackluster performance in the first half.
Morocco fullback Achraf Hakimi capitalized on a fast break to be clean through on goal in the 26th minute but was denied by Lens goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca. Then Kylian Mbappe missed the target in the 32nd after Neymar played him in.
Marco Verratti took the Lens defense by surprise by quickly taking a free kick in the 53rd to find Mbappe, whose chip was saved by Leca. Mbappe pounced on the rebound only to have his angled strike cleared off the line by Christopher Wooh.
“That’s my eighth league title, that’s something I would have never imagined when I was little,” Verratti said. “That will always stay in my heart.”
Lens went down to 10 men in the 57th when center back Kevin Danso received a second yellow card for an awkward challenge on Neymar.
Soon after, Messi finally broke Lens’ defence.
Meanwhile, Monaco was making a strong finish in the race for Champions League spots after extending its winning streak to six games by defeating Saint-Etienne 4-1 to move into third place.
The match was suspended twice after supporters set off fireworks from the stands. The first suspension in the first half lasted only a couple of minutes but the second suspension in the second half lasted 35 minutes because league officials gathered to make a decision. The stadium announcer warned the crowd that a third incident would lead to the game being abandoned.
France international Wissam Ben Yedder scored his 20th league goal for Monaco.
Monaco trailed second-placed Marseille by three points.
Saint-Etienne remained in the relegation zone, one point from safety.
Also, Lyon pulled within four points of a Europa Conference League playoff spot by downing mid-table Montpellier 5-2.
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