PSG held to 1-1 draw after Reims equalizes in stoppage time
PARIS (AP) — Striker Folarin Balogun equalized deep into stoppage time as Reims earned a 1-1 draw at French league leader Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, keeping PSG three points ahead of second-place Lens.
Balogun, who began his career at Premier League team Arsenal and stood out throughout the game with his movement, latched onto a long pass in the sixth minute of injury time. He easily beat veteran defender Sergio Ramos for pace before confidently shooting past goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It was the 21-year-old forward’s 11th league goal of the season and one less than PSG’s scorer Neymar.
Neymar struck in the 51st to move one behind league top scorer and teammate Kylian Mbappé, before PSG had midfielder Marco Verratti sent off for a dangerous tackle on Japan winger Junya Ito in the 59th. Verratti made his return from a thigh injury when he came on for the second half.
Midtable Reims extended its unbeaten run to 12 games, which included holding PSG to a 0-0 draw at home in October, and was the better side in the first half.
Donnarumma almost gave a goal away after 23 seconds when he hacked a back pass straight to the opposition but got away with it.
Balogun went close midway through the first half and teammate Marshall Munetsi — a midfielder with Zimbabwe — also caused problems for PSG’s static defense.
Referee Ruddy Buquet awarded Reims a penalty shortly after Neymar’s goal for a foul on Balogun but changed his mind following a video review.
In the end, Balogun had his say.
PSG has won only one of its last four league games, losing two, and coach Christophe Galtier acknowledged there is a problem.
“We were soporific in the first half, we were quickly split in two and we were on the back foot,” he said. “We abandoned our defense.”
Since the World Cup, PSG has won only two of its 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 rock-bottom Angers 2-0. With a much tougher test against Bayern Munich approaching in the round of 16 of the Champions League, PSG needs to improve fast.
Either side of playing Bayern on Feb. 14, PSG has two away games at bitter rival Marseille, in the French Cup and in the league. Marseille is only five points behind PSG in third spot.
Earlier, striker Gaetan Laborde scored the winner as Nice beat Lille 1-0 to end the northern side’s six-game unbeaten run.
Laborde netted in the 34th minute after Badredine Bouanani intercepted a poor back pass and set him up for a first-time finish. Lille had not lost in the league since Oct. 30.
Alexandre Lacazette notched his 12th league goal of the season as Lyon won 2-0 at Corsican side Ajaccio to move into ninth place.
Tempers flared after the game as Lyon coach Laurent Blanc grabbed Ajaccio coach Olivier Pantaloni’s face after they had shaken hands, and shoved him away following 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 goalkeeper coach Rémy Vercoutre. Security officials had to separate them as angry home fans banged on the dugout.
Lacazette cut short his post-game television interview when a lighter thrown from the crowd landed near him. Vercoutre had to be escorted away as fans insulted him and some tried to get on the field.
The visitors took the lead in the 20th when 20-year-old midfielder Johann Lepenant turned in Bradley Barcola’s pass.
Lacazette, who re-joined hometown Lyon in the 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 forward 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 side Angers. Midfielders Franck Honorat and Pierre Lees-Melou scored after the break.
English forward Stephy Mavididi scored both goals as Montpellier got a much-needed 2-0 win at 19th-place Auxerre to move away from relegation trouble, and Clermont drew 0-0 at home to Nantes.
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