Substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored an injury-time equaliser to allow Paris Saint-Germain to escape with a 1-1 draw against an excellent RC Lens at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Saturday.
RC Lens 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
The big Saturday night game in Round 17 lived up to the hype in front of a raucous crowd of close to 37,000 in far northern France. The Lens supporters were hoping to see their team cause an upset against newly-crowned seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and PSG’s other superstars, and they very nearly did. Les Sang et Or led through Seko Fofana’s 62nd-minute strike but were denied the victory as Wijnaldum headed in at the death.
Messi has still managed just a single Ligue 1 Uber Eats goal in nine appearances now, although he almost opened the scoring in the 18th minute, his shot from outside the area striking the post and going wide. PSG also came close to opening the scoring in first-half stoppage time when Ángel Di María arrived at the back post to connect with Achraf Hakimi’s cross only for Lens goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca to thwart him with an excellent save.
Lens had actually been the better team in the first half though, and Franck Haise’s side tested Keylor Navas on several occasions, including from a Jonathan Clauss free-kick, an Arnaud Kalimuendo shot and, most notably, from a Cheick Doucouré volley on the half-hour mark.
Fofana gets opener
The hosts did take the lead just after the hour mark, however. Facundo Medina won back possession with a challenge on Messi that left the former Barcelona man on the ground. As the referee allowed the play to continue, the ball came to Fofana and the midfielder let fly with a strike that was powerful but should have been kept out by Navas.
David Pereira Da Costa then hit the post midway through the second half with a shot that took a deflection off Danilo Pereira, but PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino moved to turn the tide with a triple substitution, sending on Idrissa Gana Gueye, Kylian Mbappé and Wijnaldum.
Within moments of entering the fray, Mbappé had a header from a Messi assist saved by Leca. The World Cup-winning forward then made the leveller in the second added minute, his cross from the left finding the head of Dutch star Wijnaldum.
It is a second successive draw for PSG, but their lead at the top of the table is now 13 points from Olympique de Marseille, who do at least have a game in hand. Lens are fifth.
THE PLAYER: Seko Fofana
There were several outstanding performances in the Lens side and captain Fofana was a driving force in midfield. The 26-year-old Paris-born Ivory Coast international followed up his goal in the midweek draw at Clermont with the opener here. He is loving life in Lens, although there will be surely be concrete interest in him very soon given the way he has been playing this season.
THE STAT: 1
He may have seven Ballons d’Or, but Lionel Messi still has just one goal after nine appearances in Ligue 1. It is fair to say that few could have guessed the former Barcelona man would have had such difficulty finding the net in the French game, although he was unfortunate here with an early shot off the post.