PARIS (AP) Two days after celebrating his 20th birthday, Kylian Mbappe grabbed Paris Saint-Germain’s winner against Nantes in a scrappy 1-0 home result on Saturday.
With PSG heading toward a third straight French league draw, Mbappe slid in at the back post to stab home Angel Di Maria’s corner from the right in the 68th minute.
It took France’s World Cup star to the top of the league scoring charts with 13, and ensured PSG heads into the winter break unbeaten in domestic competitions.
PSG is 13 points ahead of second-placed Lille, which lost at home to Toulouse 2-1 and has played two games more than PSG.
Third-placed Lyon closed the gap on Lille to two points as forward Nabil Fekir netted for the third straight game in a 1-1 draw at fourth-place Montpellier. Lyon has a game in hand on Lille, and Montpellier has one in hand on Lyon after previous weekends saw a spate of postponements due to widespread anti-government protests around the country.
Saint-Etienne was the big winner on the night, moving level on points with Montpellier after a comfortable 3-0 home win against Dijon. Saint-Etienne’s front line worked well, with Kevin Monnet-Paquet, Wahbi Khazri and Robert Beric all scoring.
At the other end of the table, the pressure was mounting on beleaguered Monaco coach Thierry Henry after losing at home to last-placed Guingamp 2-0. Since taking charge in October, Henry has won only three out of 14 matches overall.
Monaco was in 19th place and only two points ahead of Guingamp, which scored in the second half through forwards Marcus Thuram and Nolan Roux.
Southampton and Derby County chase the final spot in the fourth round proper of the 2018-19 FA Cup with a replay at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.
[ FOLLOW: FA Cup scoreboard ]
The clubs drew 2-2 at Pride Park on Jan. 5, with a Nathan Redmond 2-0 lead going to waste for the Premier League visitors.
The victor gets a trip to the Crown Ground to face League One’s Accrington Stanley on Jan. 26.
Full fourth round fixture list
Arsenal v. Manchester United
Accrington Stanley v. Derby County or Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City v. Bolton
Doncaster Rovers v. Oldham Athletic
Man City v. Burnley
Middlesbrough v. Newport County
Newcastle United v. Watford
Portsmouth v. Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City v. Gillingham
Shrewsbury Town v. Wolves
Millwall v. Everton
AFC Wimbledon v. West Ham United
Crystal Palace v. Spurs
Chelsea v. Sheffield Wednesday
Barnet v. Brentford
Managerial darling Marcelo Bielsa spoke out Wednesday as fallout continues from a Leeds United scout caught spying on Derby County last week.
Bielsa says he’s spied on every team the club has played in the Championship this season.
[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]
How rare is this? And how big of a role has it played in Leeds’ 4-point lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League? From the BBC:
“I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents,” he said. “All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.
“We feel guilty if we don’t work enough, it [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behavior.”
The 63-year-old Argentine has spent time at Lille, Lazio, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, and Espanyol in addition to running the national teams of Argentina and Chile.
It does raise the question of how much spying is done in soccer. We know that the NFL’s New England Patriots cheated during a game against the New York Jets and that MLB teams try to steal signals, but sneaking around a training session… is that okay? Should it be?
Josef Martinez has signed a new deal with Atlanta United, with a contract tying him to the club through the 2023 Major League Soccer season.
Martinez, 25, has 55 goals in 61 games for the Five Stripes since arriving from Torino in 2017, a strike rate unlike anything the Venezuelan had been able to do in his career with the Serie A club, Young Boys, or Caracas.
[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]
That development has him happy to lock down a new Designated Player deal in Georgia, one that certainly would raise his transfer value. From AtlUtd.com:
“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”
With neither Newcastle nor Real Betis ready to meet Atlanta’s transfer fee for Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes are in a bit of a bind with a reported deal for expected DP Pity Martinez despite having the league maximum three DPs in Martinez, Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco. Perhaps the European clubs are trying to force Atlanta’s hand.
Rog and Davo applaud David De Gea‘s goalkeeping heroics in Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham. Plus, wins for Liverpool and City in the title race.
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