Dembele scores again as Lyon beats Montpellier 3-2

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              Empty stands and a banner reading "We Won't Forget" referring to PSG's Champions League loss against Manchester United are seen during the French League One soccer match between Paris-Saint-Germain and Olympique Marseille at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Sunday, March 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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PARIS (AP) — Angel Di Maria scored a brace and set up another goal to guide Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-1 win over rival Marseille on Sunday in the French league, a result that soothed the French champion’s angry fans.

Still shocked by their team’s elimination in the last 16 of the Champions League for a third straight season, PSG’s “Ultra” fans deserted their stand in protest during warmup after deploying a banner that read: “We don’t forget.”

PSG was handed a surprising 3-1 home loss to Manchester United on March 6, becoming the first team to be eliminated from the competition after winning the away leg 2-0.

“We should not ask for forgiveness, it was an accident,” PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said. “We deserved the win today … our team proved it is capable of bouncing back with a champion mentality. We have an extraordinary spirit.”

Back to their home ground for the first time since that crushing defeat, PSG supporters displayed more messages during the match, asking players to “show respect to the institution.” Another banner accused the players of caring only about money.

An uneventful and balanced first half saw Kylian Mbappe — who missed a penalty in stoppage time — put the hosts in front just before halftime.

The France striker was set up down the left by Di Maria, who controlled a long ball with a subtle first touch and then found his teammate in the box. Mbappe opened his right foot on the ball and fired a curling shot past Steve Mandanda at the far post for his 26th league goal.

Thiago Silva was caught napping as the teams returned from the break and Valere Germain made the most of the PSG captain’s poor marking to score from close range.

The hosts quickly reclaimed the lead, though, after Di Maria combined well down the right to play a quick one-two with Thilo Kehrer before slotting the ball home from a tight angle in the 55th.

Tempers frayed soon after when Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson fell to the ground following a hard tackle from Marco Verrati, triggering a melee.

Mandanda was sent off in the 62nd as he came out of his box to block a pass from Di Maria and handled the ball. The Argentina winger sealed PSG’s win from the ensuing free kick, curling the ball into the top right corner as Mandanda’s replacement Yohann Pele watched helplessly.

Pele was more inspired in stoppage time when he dived to his left to deny Mbappe’s penalty after defender Hiroki Sakai fouled the French international in the box.

PSG has a 20-point lead over second-placed Lille and is poised to seal a sixth league title in seven years. Marseille remained in fourth place, some 30 points off the pace.

DEMBELE SCORES AGAIN

Spurred on by in-form Moussa Dembele, Lyon bounced back from its Champions League elimination, and revived its hopes of direct qualification for Europe’s top competition next season, after beating Montpellier 3-2.

Lyon, which slumped to a 5-1 loss at Barcelona midweek in the last 16 of the tournament, moved within four points of second-placed Lille, which lost 1-0 at home to Monaco on Friday. The top two teams automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage.

An entertaining match with many chances for both sides saw hosts Lyon opening the scoring after 12 minutes. Martin Terrier scored from the rebound from Rafael’s cross after Montpellier goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte parried away his first attempt at goal.

Florent Mollet leveled for the visitors with a superb free kick and Dembele made it 2-1 near the hour mark with his 12th goal this season. It was Dembele’s fifth goal in his last three league games.

Under heavy rain, Nabil Fekir missed a second-half penalty before teammate Houssem Aouar increased Lyon’s lead with a diving header with four minutes remaining. Souleymane Camara reduced the gap in stoppage time.

OTHER GAMES

A late equalizer from Senegal forward M’Baye Niang secured a 1-1 draw for Rennes at Bordeaux, denying coach Paulo Sousa a win on his debut.

Niang scored in stoppage time to cancel out Francois Kamano’s opener just before the hour mark. It was Kamano’s ninth league goal this season

Also, sixth-placed Reims defeated Nantes 1-0 with Remi Oudin’s second-half goal.