Lucas Moura’s desperately late controversial winner bailed out Alphonse Areola and Paris Saint-Germain as they scraped an unconvincing 2-1 win over Lille to keep the pressure on Monaco at the Ligue 1 summit.
Both sides scored in the final four minutes at Parc des Princes, as PSG escaped with victory thanks to Lucas after Nicolas de Preville had pounced on an Areola howler in possession.
It was one-way traffic throughout and PSG should have been well on their way to victory before the late drama, with Hatem Ben Arfa and Angel Di Maria particularly dangerous.
But the visitors managed to keep them at bay for long stretches, with goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama kept busy by the home side.
PSG looked to have wrapped things up 20 minutes from the end when Edinson Cavani scored his 23rd league goal of the season, but Areola gifted De Preville an equaliser four minutes from time.
Unai Emery’s men showed their character, however, rescuing the win right at the death through Lucas who smashed in from close range, despite appearing to be offside, keeping PSG within three points of pacesetters Monaco.
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) February 7, 2017
The table-toppers had maintained position with a 2-1 win at Montpellier earlier on Tuesday and PSG looked every inch a side hoping to settle any nerves with a quick goal, as they piled the pressure on right from the start.
Di Maria tested Enyeama with a low 25-yard drive which the goalkeeper luckily parried just behind the lurking Cavani, although it was the hosts’ only shot on target of the first half.
Though inaccurate with their shooting, PSG looked fluid in attack and the roaming Ben Arfa caused problems, worrying Lille with two long-range efforts in the first half.
Lille were penned into their own half for much of the first period, but they did go close to an unlikely opener just before the break – Franck Beria’s header forcing Areola into a smart save down to his left.
PSG’s precision in front of goal improved at the start of the second period and they tested Enyeama twice within five minutes of the restart thanks to Ben Arfa and Di Maria.
Enyeama was crucial to Lille again just after the hour mark, saving from Di Maria at his near post with a brilliant reflex save.
The Nigerian goalkeeper was helpless in the 70th minute, though, as he was finally beaten.
Di Maria’s left-wing free-kick was inadvertently flicked into the danger zone by Ricardo Kishna and Cavani was on hand to find the bottom-left corner with a combination of his head and shoulder.
PSG’s tempo dropped as they seemed set for victory and Areola’s lapse in concentration presented De Preville with a simple equaliser to leave Emery incensed on the sideline.
But the hosts’ winner was similarly gift-wrapped as a clearly offside Lucas turned home on the rebound, and the flag stayed down to keep PSG in contention at the top.
Key Opta Facts:
– Paris Saint-Germain are unbeaten in their last 18 home games in Ligue 1 against Lille (W10 D8). The last time Lille won at the Parc des Princes in the top flight was in April 1996.
– Unai Emery’s side are unbeaten in their last six Ligue 1 games (W5 D1), after winning none of their previous three (D1 L2).
– Lille have won only one of their last seven Ligue 1 games (D3 L3).
– Lucas Moura has scored five goals against Lille in all competitions, the team against which he has scored the most.
– Lille have registered the worst possession for a Ligue 1 team this season (22.9 per cent), it is also Lille’s worst possession statistic in Ligue 1 since 2006/07.
– Edinson Cavani is the first player over the last 25 years to score 23 goals after 24 matchdays in a Ligue 1 season.
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