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International

PSG Beats Marseille 2-1 to Close In on Title; Nice Wins

PARIS — Runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain took a step closer to reclaiming the French league title after beating rival Marseille 2-1 on Sunday in a game lacking the intensity befitting their bitter rivalry and featuring two controversial decisions that went PSG’s way.

Having lost the title to Lille last season, PSG is 15 points clear of second-place Marseille with six games left. Victory at Angers on Wednesday will seal the title for PSG if Marseille draws at home to Nantes; and a draw is enough if Marseille loses.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe scored in a subdued atmosphere at Parc des Princes, but Mbappe’s penalty awarded deep into first-half injury time for 2-1 was questionable.

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal during the League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Marseille, at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Sunday, April 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

A video review gave hand ball against Valentin Rogier after the ball hit his elbow, even though it appeared to hit his thigh first. Mbappe scored with a low shot to the left for his league-leading 21st goal.

Marseille’s players were angry when central defender William Saliba’s goal in the 85th from Dimitri Payet’s excellent free kick was ruled out for a very thin offside. The VAR call appeared to show Saliba’s shoulder was just ahead of PSG’s Danilo Pereira.

Marseille’s defeat leaves it in second place — three points ahead of Rennes — and automatic Champions League qualification.

PSG is out of the Champions League and the players were fully rested to take on a Marseille side which played in Greece on Thursday to reach the Europa Conference League semifinals.

The visitors were comfortable until Italy midfielder Marco Verratti lofted a 12th-minute pass over the defense and Neymar was at full stretch to lob goalkeeper Pau Lopez, who misread the pass.

It was Neymar’s seventh goal in the five games since PSG was knocked out of the Champions League by Read Madrid in the last 16.

But PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made a mistake on a corner and, from the scramble, Croatia center half Duje Caleta-Car poked home in the 31st.

Record seven-time Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi had a goal ruled out for offside close to halftime.

PSG fans insulted Marseille’s players throughout but did not back their own team, exasperated by another collapse from a strong position in the Champions League against Madrid last month.

“I wasn’t expecting this atmosphere. It wasn’t the right time to do this,” PSG captain Marquinhos said. “We understand they (the fans) have their reasons, maybe they’re not getting answers. But as a player I don’t agree.”

Earlier, Andy Delort’s late goal gave Nice a hard-fought 2-1 home win against Lorient and kept it in contention for a Champions League spot.

Delort’s second goal of the game saw him head in Denmark striker Kasper Dolberg’s cross in the 88th minute.

The win moved fourth-place Nice two points behind Rennes in third and a Champions League playoff spot. Nice currently holds the automatic Europa League place, one point ahead of Strasbourg and Monaco with six games left. Fifth-place Strasbourg drew 1-1 at Troyes on Sunday.

Monaco hosts Nice in the Riviera derby on Wednesday.

PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe, right, duels for the ball with Marseille’s William Saliba during the League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Marseille, at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Sunday, April 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Delort netted from the penalty spot in the 54th after midfielder Khephren Thuram was fouled. Left winger Armand Lauriente equalized in the 61st.

Elsewhere, striker Moussa Dembele scored a hat trick as Lyon routed Bordeaux 6-1 to go some way to appeasing its disgruntled supporters.

Dembele, forward Karl Toko Ekambi and midfielder Lucas Paqueta scored in the first half.

Midfielder Romain Faivre and Toko Ekambi netted after the break for Lyon, before Sekou Mara grabbed a late consolation with a penalty and Dembele scored again in stoppage time.

Lyon is eighth and only has an outside chance of qualifying for Europe next season, much to the disappointment of its fans. Two prominent groups — Bad Gones and Lyon 1950 — did not attend the game.

Lyon’s fans are generally unhappy with the players and how the club is being run. Fans deployed an insulting banner toward the players during Thursday’s home defeat to West Ham in the quarterfinals of the Europa League, and tried to invade the field afterward.

Bordeaux has conceded a league-high 77 goals and remains deep in relegation trouble in 19th. It hosts fellow struggler Saint-Etienne on Wednesday.

OTHER MATCHES

Elsewhere Sunday, last-place Metz and relegation rival Clermont drew 1-1. In matches between midtable teams, it was: Montpellier 0, Reims 0; and Nantes 1, Angers 1.

 

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