Paris Saint-Germain suffered its third defeat of the still-young Ligue 1 season on Friday, a 2-1 disaster away to previously last-place Dijon, once again putting manager Thomas Tuchel under increased pressure.
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Now, if only there was a club in a position to pounce upon PSG’s early-season struggles, their monopoly on the Ligue 1 title might actually be in jeopardy. Alas, even with defeats in exactly one-fourth of the season’s first 12 games, they enjoy an eight-point lead at the top. Nantes, Lille and Reims are the only clubs with a single-point deficit.
While French giants like Marseille, Monaco and Lyon would typically be waiting in the wings should PSG falter, those three clubs currently sit seventh, 11th and 13th in the league table, respectively, all at least 11 points off the leaders’ pace.
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PSG went ahead after 19 minutes, courtesy of Kylian Mbappe’s fifth league goal (in just seven appearances) of the season. They didn’t make it to halftime with the lead intact, however, as Mounir Chouiar pulled the hosts level in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time. PSG hardly recovered during the break, as they conceded less than two minutes into the second half, with Jhonder Cadiz scoring what turned out to be the winner.
After scoring twice on Friday, their 12th game of the season, Dijon have now scored seven goals on the season. The victory moves them out of the cellar and into 18th place, where they now occupy the relegation playoff place instead of an automatic relegation spot.
While a pair of Premier League sides were thumping visitors, two other UEFA Champions League mainstays had to work harder for their results on Tuesday.
Bayern Munich and Juventus overcame poor starts to record wins, while Real Madrid struggled to a win at stingy Turkish powers Galatasaray.
PSG, however, had zero problems in Belgium.
[ MORE: Man City 5-1 Atalanta | Spurs 5-0 Red Star ]
Juventus 2-1 Lokomotiv Moscow
Dominayed Lokomotiv took the lead against all odds when Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russian visitors a lead despite Juve’s 12-2 shot advantage, but Paulo Dybala scored twice in three minutes to send the visitors home sad.
And this one was absurd:
Olympiacos 2-3 Bayern Munich
Youssef El-Arabi gave the hosts a lead, but Robert Lewandowski scored for the 12th-straight game and 17th time this season to level the line and it was mostly Bayern after that (Olympiacos’ second goal came quite late). Lewandowski added another, his 18th, while Corentin Tolisso also scored for Bayern.
Club Brugge 0-5 PSG
Kylian Mbappe is unfair, scoring a hat trick as PSG waxed Simon Mignolet and the Belgian hosts.
Shakhtarr Donetsk 2-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid
NICE, France (AP) Angel Di Maria scored twice and Kylian Mbappe marked his return from injury with a goal as Paris Saint-Germain stretched its lead in the French league with a 4-1 win at nine-man Nice on Friday.
Di Maria got the visitors off to a flying start in the first half before Mbappe sealed the win in the 83rd minute after the home side had two players sent off. Mbappe also set up Mauro Icardi for PSG’s fourth goal in injury time.
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Mbappe, who recently missed a month with a thigh injury, hadn’t played since suffering a reaction to his original injury in Champions League win over Galatasaray on Oct. 1.
The win lifts PSG five points clear of Nantes ahead of the rest of the 10th round of matches.
Di Maria opened the scoring in the 15th minute after being sent through all alone from the halfway line by Icardi as Nice’s defenders all pushed up. The Argentine stayed cool with only goalkeeper Walter Benitez to beat and picked his spot inside the far corner.
Di Maria’s second goal six minutes later was even better as he lifted the ball over Benitez with his first touch from a difficult angle.
Marquinhos replaced Brazilian compatriot Thiago Silva for the second half and struck the crossbar with a header from a corner.
A Marquinhos mistake – made while attempting a backpass to Presnel Kimpembe – allowed Ignatius Ganago to pull one back for Nice in the 67th.
But the home side’s hope of an equalizer were hit in the 74th when Wylan Cyprien was sent off with a second yellow card after he criticized the referee for not awarding a foul against him.
Christophe Herelle followed Cyprien off minutes later with a straight red after the video referee picked up a slap he gave Leandro Paredes, who fell theatrically to the ground.
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Kylian Mbappe is one of the most dynamic players in the world and doesn’t even turn 21 until late December.
Paris Saint-Germain has locked the youngster up through 2022, but that hasn’t stopped the biggest names in football from being linked with massive bids for his services.
[ MORE: Pogba, De Gea out ]
Dueling reports out of French outlet Le10 Sport claim that Mbappe is set to be offered a monster new $55 million annual contract from Les Parisiens, with Real Madrid ready to offer the big man almost $40 million per year.
The new PSG figure would give Mbappe the richest deal in football, while Real’s offer would sit below only Lionel Messi (at least until the Barcelona legend gets his new deal this winter).
We’ve argued that, given his age and acumen, Mbappe is the one player in world football worth the outlandish numbers it would take to land his services.
At age 20, he’s already a World Cup winner with 13 goals in 33 caps, and his club numbers are eye-popping: 89 goals and 51 assists in 154 matches between Monaco and PSG. Absurd.
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.