Sports

Messi, Neymar Absent As PSG Suffers Loss

Without World Cup champion, Lionel Messi, and Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain were trounced 3-1 in Lens on Sunday, marking their first loss in a competition since March 20 of last year.

“Lens deserved their win,” said PSG coach Christophe Galtier.

After 17 games, the distance between Lens and PSG at the top was reduced to four points, thanks to goals from Lois Openda and assists for another player. Lens have lost just once in Ligue 1 this year.

“We are happy to be four points behind,” said Lens coach Franck Haise. “This victory proves that we can beat anyone in this championship.”

PSG’s most recent defeat, a 3-0 loss to Monaco in Ligue 1, occurred more than nine months ago, yet it didn’t affect their 12-point lead atop the standings.

Despite missing Messi and being without Neymar due to suspension on Sunday against Lens, Kylian Mbappe, the Qatar Golden Boot winner, was greeted enthusiastically by the Lens supporters as he warmed up.

Galtier expressed his hope that Messi will receive a similar response from French supporters.

“He’s going to join us on January 3, in 48 hours,” said Galtier. “I hope Leo will be well received. He won the most beautiful trophy by being very good. We know he’s a great and decisive player so we hope he’ll be well received obviously.”

“Kylian worked had,” said Galtier. “He showed a very good attitude.”

“Leo and ‘Ney’ were not there but that is no excuse.”

After five minutes, Gianluigi Donnarumma of PSG denied Massadio Haidara’s shot, allowing Przemyslaw Frankowski to score for Lens.

Three minutes later, Hugo Ekitike answered, swinging forcefully as Brice Samba dove to grab a cross and driving the ball over the Lens goalkeeper’s reach.

After 28 minutes, Lens started to dominate. Seko Fofana gained control of the ball on the outskirts of his own penalty area, pushed through a few challenges, and then measuredly fed Openda with a pass between the PSG central defenders. The Belgian accelerated by Donnarumma and fired a shot under him.

In the 48th minute, Lens gained possession deep within the PSG half after applying pressure early in the second half.

When the ball reached Openda in the area, his backheel caught the defense off guard and set up Alexis Claude Maurice for a close-range goal.

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