Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

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Choupo-Moting leading PSG in absence of big three

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Three years ago, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting finished a dismal season at Schalke with a torn ACL. Two years ago, he couldn’t cut it at relegated Premier League side Stoke City. One year ago, a surprise move to Paris Saint-Germain saw the Cameroonian stuck on the bench behind three superstars.

Now, with each prong of the three-headed monster shelved, the 30-year-old is right where PSG needs him to be.

With Kylian Mbappe on the shelf with a hamstring tear, Edinson Cavani also sidelined with a hip injury, and Neymar nowhere to be found as he looks for a way out, Choupo-Moting is suddenly the man of the hour at Parc des Princes. The Stoke reject struck for PSG’s second as the French side topped Metz 2-0 on the road, one match after his brace led the way in a 4-0 rout of Toulouse.

It’s a small sample size against less than blistering competition, and it doesn’t get any easier from here as PSG gets set to face Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage opener after the international break, but it’s a positive start from an unlikely source. Before this season, since moving to Schalke in the summer of 2014, Choupo-Moting has just 26 goals in 124 league games across Bundesliga, Premier League, and Ligue 1 play.

Thomas Tuchel described Choupo-Moting as “cover for Edinson Cavani” when he made the shocking move to PSG from then-relegated Stoke, but it’s not likely he ever envisioned the Cameroon international carrying the defending French champions in the absence of the entire star-studded attack. With Cavani down for three weeks, Mbappe sidelined a month, and Neymar’s return completely in doubt, there’s still work to be done, but there are promising signs from the unlikeliest of sources for Tuchel to carry them through tough times.

Ligue 1 wrap: Mbappe, Cavani limp off in PSG’s 4-0 Neymar-less win

Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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PARIS (AP) After being involved in one of the most comical moments in European football last season, striker Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting distinguished himself with a fine goal and scored a second as Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 4-0 in the French league on Sunday.

The resounding win came at a price, however, as PSG forwards Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, clutching the back of his left leg and grimacing, limped off.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said the players will have tests Monday to determine the extent of their injuries.

Despite being match fit, record signing Neymar remains unavailable as he seeks to push through a move away from the club – a situation which appears increasingly exasperating for Tuchel.

“Today was the occasion (for him to play) … it’s certain he could have played today,” Tuchel said in French on Canal Plus television. “It’s not a clear situation and it should be clear.”

Tuchel then went as far as to suggest he has little or no say as to whether Neymar can play against Metz on Friday – just days before the transfer window shuts.

It was Choupo-Moting, then, who replaced Cavani in the 13th minute and he will not enjoy many nights like this.

Receiving a pass from Angel Di Maria, the Cameroon striker burst into the penalty area, span around with one touch to move inside two defenders and drilled the ball into the bottom left corner with the next touch in the 50th minute.

It was only his fourth goal in 23 league games since a surprise move from unheralded English side Stoke last season.

In April, Choupo-Moting was widely mocked on social networks for an extraordinary passage of play in a 2-2 home draw against Strasbourg. Amid disbelieving looks from teammates, he somehow prevented a goal for his team despite the ball being about to cross the goal-line, gently nudging the ball onto the post before it was cleared by defenders.

He was only on the field on Sunday night due to an injury to Cavani, who limped off with what appeared to be a leg muscle injury. Midway through the second period, Mbappe left the field after appearing to hurt his hamstring.

After a first half in which Mbappe missed good chances, Choupo-Moting’s opener was a welcome breakthrough. Five minutes later, it was 2-0 when Toulouse defender Mathieu Goncalves turned Pablo Sarabia’s cross into his own net.

Goncalves was harshly judged to have conceded a penalty soon after, slipping over in the area and powerless to stop Sarabia’s cross hitting his left arm. Referee Jerome Brisard still gave it, despite a video review. With Cavani injured and Neymar absent, Di Maria took the spot kick and saw his effort well saved by goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet.

Choupo-Moting confidently drove home a cross from left back Juan Bernat in the 75th and Brazil defender Marquinhos headed in Di Maria’s corner from the left late on for the fourth goal as PSG climbed up to third place with six points – three points behind leader Rennes.

Lyon can move back top on goal difference with a win at Montpellier on Tuesday.

OTHER MATCHES

Rennes won 2-0 at Strasbourg.

Confidence was high after last Sunday’s 2-1 home win against PSG, and goals from midfielder Clement Grenier in the first half and powerful center forward M’Baye Niang soon after the break made it nine points from three games.

Monaco, meanwhile, is still seeking its first win after drawing 2-2 at home to Nimes.

New signings Wissam Ben Yedder and Islam Slimani scored to put Monaco 2-0 up at halftime.

But after Brazilian defender Jemerson’s 55th-minute sending off, Nimes hit back through midfielder Romain Philippoteaux and 18-year-old forward Kevin Denkey.

Jemerson was shown a yellow card for a tackle from behind on Philippoteaux, but the referee changed it to a red following a video review.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

VIDEO: Worst miss in history? Choupo-Moting spoils PSG title party

AP
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Spare a thought for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting this Monday morning.

On Sunday, his Paris Saint-Germain side had the chance to clinch the French league title by beating Strasbourg. Thomas Tuchel’s men drew 2-2, but it could have been so different if Choupo-Moting wouldn’t have missed from on the line/cleared the goalbound effort of his own teammate.

Yep, you read that correctly.

[ MORE: Ligue 1 score, schedule ] 

Check out the video below to see the incredible miss from former Stoke City man Choupo-Moting, as the Cameroon star looked stunned at what he had just done.

PSG will win the title soon enough, but anybody who witnessed this miss in the Parc des Princes on Sunday will be talking about it for a very long time. And probably the rest of their lives.

No words.

Bundesliga wrap: Bayern holds off Leverkusen, BVB leaves basement

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Borussia Dortmund used home field as an advantage to pull itself out of the Bundesliga basement, while Bayern Munich continued its winning ways and several teams kept Germany’s top-flight a high-scoring league on Friday and Saturday.

USMNT fans will have to wait until Sunday to see if Julian Green and/or Timmy Chandler can star, though two other American internationals were involved in our first showdown of the the wrap.

[ PREMIER LEAGUE: Chelsea stunned | Arsenal, too ]

Let’s get to the matches:

Borsource: APussia Dortmund 1-0 Hoffenheim
Ilkay Gundogan’s 17th minute goal lifted BVB off the bottom of the Bundesliga, as Dortmund leapt five places up the table with Friday’s much-needed home win against Hoffenheim. It was Gundogan’s first goal of the season in just his fifth appearance.

Bayern Munich 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Franck Ribery’s 51st minute goal gave Bayern the edge after a first-half found the visitors making a play for the points.

Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2 Hertha Berlin
A thriller at Borussia Park saw two American internationals on opposite ends of the pitch. Fabian Johnson came on as an 86th minute sub for the hosts, who led 3-1 at that point on goals from Tony Jantschke, Raffael and Thorgan Hazard. John Anthony Brooks was on the field for 90 minutes, but that also means he was on for a trio of goals.

Elsewhere
Stuttgart 0-4 Schalke¬†— Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting nets hat trick including 1st minute goal.
FC Koln 1-2 Augsburg — Visitors erase early deficit to move into a surprising third.
Paderborn 1-1 Freiburg —¬†Elias Kachunga saves a point for Freiburg at the death.
Hannover 1-3 Wolfsburg —¬†Visitors with a five-point cushion on third place, 7 back of Bayern.
Hamburger SV vs. Mainz — 930am ET Sunday
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Werder Bremen — 1130am ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Bayern Munich 14 11 3 0 33 3 30 8-0-0 3-3-0 36
VfL Wolfsburg 14 9 2 3 28 13 15 6-1-0 3-1-3 29
FC Augsburg 14 8 0 6 20 14 6 5-0-1 3-0-5 24
Bayer Leverkusen 14 6 5 3 25 18 7 4-3-0 2-2-3 23
FC Schalke 04 14 7 2 5 25 18 7 5-2-0 2-0-5 23
Mönchen 14 6 5 3 19 12 7 4-3-1 2-2-2 23
1899 Hoffenheim 14 5 5 4 21 22 -1 4-2-1 1-3-3 20
Hannover 96 14 6 1 7 14 21 -7 4-0-3 2-1-4 19
Eintracht Frankfurt 13 5 3 5 22 24 -2 3-1-3 2-2-2 18
SC Paderborn 14 4 5 5 19 23 -4 3-4-1 1-1-4 17
FSV Mainz 05 13 3 7 3 16 18 -2 2-3-1 1-4-2 16
1. FC Köln 14 4 3 7 14 20 -6 1-2-4 3-1-3 15
Borussia Dortmund 14 4 2 8 15 21 -6 3-1-3 1-1-5 14
Hertha BSC Berlin 14 4 2 8 19 26 -7 3-1-3 1-1-5 14
SC Freiburg 14 2 7 5 15 21 -6 1-3-2 1-4-3 13
Werder Bremen 13 3 4 6 18 26 -8 2-2-2 1-2-4 13
Hamburger SV 13 3 3 7 7 17 -10 2-2-2 1-1-5 12
VfB Stuttgart 14 3 3 8 18 31 -13 1-1-5 2-2-3 12

Bundesliga Wrap: Goals galore!

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No game in the Bundesliga featured less than two goals so far this weekend, and an astonishing four matches saw the winners scoring four goals. That’s the sort of fun you get when you tune into German football – the title may be all but decided, but there’s still going to be plenty of excitement elsewhere. The sort of excitement you get when the last-placed side sinks four.

Friday Results

Mainz 2-0 Hannover
A very happy Valentine’s Day result for Mainz, who move one step closer to the European positions with their fourth win in five games.¬†Yunus Malli scored their first off a counter-attack in the 51st minute, while substitute¬†Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting grabbed the second deep into extra time.

Saturday Results

Bayern Munich 4-0 Freiburg
A routine win over one of the Bundesliga’s struggling sides ensures that Bayern Munich keep their hold on the top of the table, sitting an astonishing 16 points above Bayer Leverkusen. Dante scored the first, with Xherdan Shaqiri bagging a brace before the interval. Claudio Pizarro scored right at the end, completing Bayern’s rout over Freiburg.

Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
They might be 17 points behind Bayern, but Dortmund weren’t about to be undone by the league’s top side. No, they had to go and score four as well, just to make a point against a poor Frankfurt side, who they’d already beaten earlier in the week in the domestic cup.¬†Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace inside 20 minutes, and Robert Lewandowski added a third with a penalty conversion to start the second half. The real talking point, though, was¬†MiloŇ° Jojińá, who scored with his first touch for Dortmund, a mere 12 seconds into his debut with the club.

Braunschweig 4-2 Hamburg
So Bayern got four, and Dortmund got four. No big deal, right? But bottom side Braunschweig, who’d had just 11 goals prior to this weekend, scoring four – that’s a big deal. And that’s just a sign of how poor Hamburg, who are now just a point off the bottom, are. It was the visitors that opened the scoring, and¬†Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s goal was enough to take them into the half with a 1-0 lead.¬†Domi Kumbela equalized for Braunschweig in the 51st minute, and added another ten minutes later.¬†Ivo Ilińćevińá pulled one back for Hamburg, but Braunschweig picked up the pace in the final five minutes. Kumbela completed his hattrick and¬†Jan Hochscheidt added a fourth with the final play of the game.

Hoffenheim 4-1 Stuttgart
What? Another side got four goals? Yes, this time it was mid-table Hoffenheim pushing Stuttgart, who started off the season in Europa League and have now lost six in a row, even closer to the danger zone. You’d think Stuttgart did it to themselves, going down to ten men when¬†Moritz Leitner received a second yellow, but Hoffenheim were already up 3-1 by the sending off in the 80th minute. Sven Schipplock scored on either side of the half, Kevin Volland put one in in between.¬†Antonio R√ľdiger finally found the net for Stuttgart in the 78th, but it was Hoffeinheim with the final say, a penalty converted by Roberto Firmino.

Werder Bremen 1-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Just two goals? Yawn. Gladbach must’ve thought they’d had this one all sewn up, cruising after Raffael’s sixth minute goal. But¬†Ludovic Obraniak scored from a direct free kick in the 88th minute, grabbing a share of the points for Werder Bremen. If Gladbach, now in fifth, don’t start winning soon, their Champion League dreams will be completely out of reach.

Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Schalke
It’s obvious that Leverkusen aren’t going to catch Bayern, and it’s fairly clear they’re not going to lose out on a Champions League place. Still, you’d think they’d at least be able to secure a point at home, even against Schalke. Especially after getting kicked out of the Cup to Bundesliga 2 side¬†Kaiserslautern. But maybe Leverkusen are just saving it up to meet PSG midweek, because they could do little to stop Schalke. In fact, their goal came courtesy of the visitors, an own goal from Felipe Santana. It was¬†Leon Goretzka and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar that put the ball in the back of the Leverkusen net, giving Schalke the win.

Sunday Fixtures

Augsburg vs. Nurnberg
Nurnberg, with just two wins all season, don’t look a likely contender to throw a spanner in Augsburg’s plan to slip into the European positions. Then again, Nurberg do have six draws on the road and managed two wins in a row before facing Bayern, so the visitors grabbing a share of the points wouldn’t be¬†completely¬†out of left field.

Hertha Berlin vs. Wolfsburg
It’s rare that the Bundesliga weekend ends with an intriguing matchup with any relevance whatsoever, but the outcome of this game could have huge implications on which Bundesliga side takes the final Europa League spot. Wolfsburg has sixth right now, but Hertha are just two points back – and holding on to a European position would be quite a way to mark their return to Germany’s top division.