Monday, February 19, 2018

Lille 0 Paris Saint-Germain 3: Neymar and Lo Celso stunners wrap up victory for Ligue 1 leaders

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 3 Feb 2018

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Neymar and Giovani Lo Celso scored superb late goals as Paris Saint-Germain restored their 11-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 with a 3-0 victory at Lille on Saturday.

Marseille’s 6-3 thumping of Metz on Friday had cut PSG’s advantage, but Unai Emery’s men – without Kylian Mbappe due to suspension – finished strongly to make sure of three points at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Yuri Berchiche scored the opener in first-half stoppage time, the defender firing in a low drive, although Lille felt the goal should have been disallowed for an offside in the build-up.

Neymar effectively ended any hopes of a home fightback with 13 minutes to play, hammering a free-kick into the top-left corner from the edge of the penalty area for his 18th Ligue 1 goal of the season.

Yet PSG were not finished there, Lo Celso sending a glorious chip over the head of goalkeeper Mike Maignan from 20 yards to extend his team’s unbeaten run against Lille to 15 games in all competitions.

PSG survived a second-half injury scare for captain Thiago Silva, ahead of their upcoming Champions League clash with Real Madrid, and the leaders have now won their last 19 league matches in which they have scored first.

Neymar drove inside off the left flank and whipped a curler just over the crossbar in the ninth minute, the Brazilian then appealing for a penalty when challenged by Kouadio Dabila, although referee Johan Hamel rightly ruled the defender won the ball.

Alphonse Areola made a good save low to his right to keep out Hamza Mendyl’s drive after Anwar El Ghazi’s dangerous low cross flashed through the penalty area.

Former PSG goalkeeper Maignan then tipped away Angel Di Maria’s deflected drive before in-demand Lille captain Ibrahim Amadou bent a 20-yard effort narrowly wide.

Dani Alves volleyed off target but PSG should have struck after 39 minutes, Edinson Cavani driving wildly off-target when Neymar was unmarked and ready to tap home.

The opener finally arrived on the stroke of half-time, Yuri hammering a low drive out of Maignan’s reach after Junior Alonso had headed the ball straight to the left-back.

El Ghazi’s 30-yard free-kick required alert goalkeeping from Areola shortly after the restart, while Maignan was called into action at the other end, blocking a Neymar effort after a dazzling solo run from the Brazilian.

Cavani’s flicked header was comfortable for Maignan on the hour mark as PSG sought to make the game safe, the club’s record scorer then sending a cross narrowly over Di Maria’s head.

Neymar was struggling to exert any influence in open play due to constant fouling from Lille, but the world’s most expensive player secured the points with a stunning free-kick.

Silva appeared to be attempting to talk Neymar out of taking the set-piece, yet the Brazilian shrugged off his captain and thumped a 20-yard strike past an unsighted Maignan.

PSG added further gloss to the scoreline with three minutes to go. Lassana Diarra had come on for his Ligue 1 debut for the club and the former France international fed midfield partner Lo Celso – who scored in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-final win over Rennes last time out – to beat Maignan with a delightful chip.

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