Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

WEEK 31 REVIEW: PSG wait on title as pack miss chances

Publish on 07/04/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS


Paris Saint-Germain were denied the chance to claim the 2018/19 Ligue 1 Conforama crown by RC Strasbourg Alsace as Week 31 of the season proved a tale of missed opportunities at either end of the table.

With second-placed LOSC Lille having failed to win in Reims earlier in the day, PSG kicked off at an expectant Parc des Princes knowing that if they maintained their 100 per cent home record with a 16th successive win in front of their own fans, they would take title number eight in the club's history.

Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting's early goal had the champagne on ice, but strikes from Nuno Da Costa and Anthony Gonçalves meant Thilo Kehrer's maiden league goal in France was worth just a point, and he and his teammates will have to wait until at least their trip to Lille next week where another draw will allow them to get their hands on winners' medals.

“In the first half we struggled to control their counterattacks. We didn’t play well with two up front and we changed the formation to play with just Choupo-Moting up front in the second half. Strasbourg had chances," said PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, who insisted he had "no regrets" about starting with Kylian Mbappé on the bench despite Neymar Jr, Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria all being out with injury.

"We are missing a lot of players, our players are very tired and we weren’t able to score that third goal. We had the opportunity to be crowned champions tonight, but we didn’t do it. It’s my fault tonight. We were missing several players tonight. We should have tried to control the match and not try to attack so much. It was my decision and my fault."

PSG owed their opportunity to Rémi Oudin. The in-form Stade de Reims forward took his season's tally into double figures with an equaliser 12 minutes from time to earn his side a 1-1 draw at home to second-placed Lille.

"There are a lot of incidents from the game that means everyone is frustrated and angry," said Lille boss Christophe Galtier, who had seen Jose Fonte put his team ahead ten minutes into the second half. "I don't get the impression we slackened off. There was simply a reaction from Reims."

The game also represented a partially missed opportunity for Lille. They extended their lead over third-placed Olympique Lyonnais, but could have been two points better off — and still closer to clinching France's second automatic qualifying spot for next season's UEFA Champions League group stage — following Dijon FCO's 3-1 win at OL 24 hours earlier.

The "miracle result" — as Guingamp boss Antoine Kombouaré called it — came thanks to an incident-filled first seven minutes in which Lyon went in front after just 37 seconds through Martin Terrier, but Dijon struck twice shortly afterwards to turn the game on its head.

Arch-rivals AS Saint-Étienne in fourth did not take full advantage either, and but for an added-time Rémy Cabella equaliser, they would have been beaten at Amiens SC; the Picardy club's fellow strugglers AS Monaco also had a last-gasp leveller — from substitute Stevan Jovetic's first league goal since August — to thank for a point at bottom side En Avant Guingamp.

SM Caen's 2-0 defeat at Nîmes Olympique, who are "100 per cent safe" according to their coach Bernard Blaquart, and FC Nantes' 1-0 loss at Toulouse FC — in which midfielder Andrei Girotto was sent off for the third time in four league games — means six clubs are now within eight points of each other at the bottom of the table.

OGC Nice's influential centre-back Dante headed home the only goal of the game to beat Montpellier Hérault SC and keep his side in contention for a European place.

Patrick Vieira's side are seventh, just a point behind fifth-placed Olympique de Marseille, who were beaten 2-0 at Girondins de Bordeaux where OM have not won in 42 years as Paulo Sousa claimed his first win as coach of Les Girondins.

Stade Rennais FC's ambitions of playing in Europe next season look to hinge entirely on them beating PSG in the Coupe de France final later this month after they were held 3-3 at Angers SCO despite a brace from Hatem ben Arfa.