Returning substitute Mauro Icardi gave Paris Saint-Germain a remarkable 3-2 win at home to Saint-Etienne on Sunday to significantly boost the champions’ title hopes.
A perplexing encounter was goalless until the 77th minute when Denis Bouanga had Saint-Etienne in front and PSG, beaten in their previous three home Ligue 1 games, facing defeat again.
Kylian Mbappe levelled just 84 seconds later, though, and then won and converted a penalty to seemingly win the match and close to within a point of leaders Lille, held by Montpellier on Friday.
Yet that was far from the end of the drama, with an awful error from stand-in goalkeeper Sergio Rico gifting Romain Hamouma a 92nd-minute equaliser.
Saint-Etienne had just three more minutes to see out to protect a point but allowed Icardi, back after a month out with a thigh strain, to reach Angel Di Maria’s cross and nod in to spark jubilant celebrations.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) April 18, 2021
Mauricio Pochettino’s side had gone closest before the ludicrous finish, with Pablo Sarabia’s 25-yard free-kick bouncing back out off the post before Danilo Pereira hacked the rebound over.
Mbappe played in Rafinha for a low shot that was well saved and then seized on Miguel Trauco’s slip and raced into the box before slashing a wild finish over.
But a stale second half threatened to play out without major event until Bouange steered in Trauco’s cross.
Rather than clinch the points, that goal simply prompted an outrageous stretch in which PSG went straight up the other end to restore parity as Mbappe smartly controlled a searching Ander Herrera pass and beat Etienne Green.
Mbappe was soon felled by Green and dispatched the subsequent spot-kick, yet PSG improbably threatened to throw away the win as Rico dropped the ball at Hamouma’s feet.
Back came PSG and Di Maria, who shortly before had hit the post direct from a corner, helped finally finding the match-winner by crossing from the right for fellow sub Icardi to get up highest and head home at the far post.
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