PSG slips to 3rd after losing to Monaco; Lille stays top
PARIS (AP) — Days after routing Barcelona in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain lost 2-0 at home to Monaco to fall back down to earth and into third place in the French league.
Fourth-place Monaco was hardly troubled on Sunday as it won for the ninth time in the last 10 games to move just two points behind defending champion PSG, which now trails Lyon by one point and league leader Lille by four.
There are 12 games left.
Monaco did the “double” on PSG following its 3-2 league win at home in late November.
Earlier Sunday, Lille routed Lorient 4-1 to put the pressure firmly on PSG at Parc des Princes, where coach Mauricio Pochettino surprisingly left key midfielder Marco Verratti on the bench.
Verratti was outstanding in Tuesday night's 4-1 win at Barcelona, but PSG was already 2-0 down when he came on after 55 minutes. Monaco coach Niko Kovac expertly exploited gaps in midfield and defense without Verratti patching things up.
Monaco's goals were scored early in each half as poor defending led to PSG's sixth defeat of the campaign — compared to three for Lyon and just two for Lille. PSG would be further behind if Lille and Lyon hadn't both drawn seven games each so far.
Midfielder Sofiane Diop was totally unmarked to head home from close range in the fifth minute. Five minutes after the break, defender Guillermo Maripan slotted the ball into the bottom right corner after Ander Herrera clumsily lost possession trying to pass from inside the penalty area.
Kylian Mbappe, who scored a superb hat trick against Barcelona, was ineffective and among four PSG players shown a yellow card.
Verratti did not seek any excuses for a performance which has dented PSG's title campaign.
“You have to congratulate Monaco, but we have to look at ourselves,” he said. “We conceded a goal after five minutes and again five minutes into the second half. These are things that shouldn't happen.”
He even challenged his teammates to show a better attitude.
“It’s not just the Champions League where you have to give everything, you have to do it here as well,” he told broadcaster Canal Plus. “There are very good teams in France ... It's up to us to rise to the challenge.”
Lille still has to play away at Lyon, PSG and Monaco but is looking strong.
Coach Christophe Galtier's side took the lead in the 20th minute when Lorient defender Andreaw Gravillon deflected a shot into his own net, but the home side equalized two minutes later thanks to Jerome Hergault's excellent curling strike after cutting in from the left flank.
Captain Jose Fonte scored a fine goal to put Lille back in front in the 37th, sweeping the ball in from the edge of the penalty area, and forward Jonathan Ikone made it 3-1 in the 58th when he deftly curled home a free kick. Substitute Domagoj Bradaric thumped in the fourth very near the end.
“It’s our most complete match of the season. We didn’t concede many chances,” Galtier said. “Winning here isn’t easy. Lorient had not lost for five league games, (including) against PSG and Monaco."
English striker Stephy Mavididi scored twice as Montpellier beat Rennes 2-1.
Mavididi connected well with midfielder Teji Savanier's pass to volley Montpellier ahead in the 16th minute, with a video review ruling out offside. He showed great awareness to fake a shot and dink the ball past two defenders, before rifling the ball home again in the 26th.
After Savanier missed a penalty early in the second half, and then went off injured, striker Serhou Guirassy pulled one back in the 77th for Rennes.
The 22-year-old Mavididi has six goals this season.
He came through the youth ranks at Premier League team Arsenal, but did not play for the club, and made one league appearance for Italian champion Juventus two seasons ago.
Juve loaned him to French club Dijon last season. He netted eight goals there before joining Montpellier last summer for 6.3 million euros ($7.6 million).
Rennes dropped to seventh spot while Montpellier is in ninth.
Lens jumped to fifth with a 2-1 home win against last-place Dijon.
Metz coach Frederic Antonetti celebrated his new three-year contract with a 2-1 win at Nice as his side moved into sixth place.
Also, it was Nimes 2, Bordeaux 0 and Strasbourg 0, Angers 0.
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