PARIS (AP)World Cup superstar Kylian Mbappe scored a penalty deep into stoppage time as unbeaten league-leader Paris Saint-Germain overcame Neymar’s red card to scrape a 2-1 home win against Strasbourg on Wednesday.
PSG players celebrated wildly at the final whistle, probably out of relief following a poor performance against a team in 19th place. The penalty came after Jean-Ricner Bellegarde clumsily lost the ball trying to dribble through midfield rather than clearing it in the 93rd minute.
The ball reached Mbappe and he was fouled from behind. PSG captain Marquinhos swept the loose ball home but referee Clement Turpin disallowed the goal and the penalty stood. Mbappe held his nerve to sweep the ball past goalkeeper Matz Sels, who guessed the right way but was beaten for speed.
Mbappe’s 96th-minute penalty increased his league-leading tally to 13 goals as PSG moved eight points ahead of second-place Lens, which plays on Thursday.
Neymar was earlier shown a second yellow card in the 62nd for diving in the penalty area and red-carded. It means he will be suspended for Sunday’s trip to Lens.
Mbappe started just 10 days after playing in the World Cup final. He became only the second player to score a hat trick in the final but was inconsolable after Les Bleus lost on penalties to Lionel Messi’s Argentina following a 3-3 draw. Messi was given extra time off by PSG and is expected back at training early next week.
Neymar, who was in tears after Brazil lost to Croatia in the quarterfinals, set up PSG’s opening goal at Parc des Princes.
His free kick from the left was headed in by countryman Marquinhos in the 14th minute, moving Neymar level with Messi on a league-leading 10 assists.
Strasbourg’s equalizer in the 51st was given as a Marquinhos own goal, as he tried to block Adrien Thomasson’s cross from the right and the ball looped over goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. It was a soft one to concede and came after midfielder Marco Verratti carelessly lost possession.
MONACO’S NEW TALENT
After launching the career of Mbappe, French club Monaco may have found another gem in Eliesse Ben Seghir.
The 17-year-old midfielder came off the bench to score twice – including an Mbappe-style winner – in his league debut to help Monaco win 3-2 at Auxerre.
Ben Seghir’s goals both came from the left side – which is where Mbappe was so devastating when he made his debut for Monaco in 2015 as a 16-year-old. Mbappe helped the Principality club win the title in 2017, before joining PSG and winning the World Cup with France in 2018.
Ben Seghir replaced striker Wissam Ben Yedder at the start of the second half, with the score 1-1, and made it 2-1 in the 58th minute from Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin’s pass.
He then struck a brilliant winner in the 85th.
Cutting inside from the left, Ben Seghir bamboozled a defender with a stepover and then feigned to shoot several times as he advanced before curling the ball into the right corner – which is one of Mbappe’s signature moves.
After the final whistle, Ben Seghir’s celebrated with Monaco’s 700 away fans by shouting into a megaphone. The win moved Monaco up to fifth place.
Sixth-place Lille won 2-0 at Clermont with second-half goals from midfielder Angel Gomes and striker Mohamed Bayo.
Former Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette scored to take his tally to 10 goals as eighth-place Lyon won 4-2 at Brest.
Corsican club Angers moved away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 home win against last-place Angers and Troyes drew 0-0 with lowly Nantes.
Lens travels to mid-table Nice, while third-place Rennes visits Reims and fourth-place Marseille takes on Toulouse.
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