Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Lens: Mbappe sets PSG goal record in crucial title race win

By Sports Desk April 15, 2023

Kylian Mbappe became Paris Saint-Germain's all-time top scorer in Ligue 1 as he helped them to a crucial 3-1 win over 10-man title rivals Lens on Saturday.

The forward made the most of Salis Abdul Samed's 19th-minute dismissal to net his 139th top-flight goal for PSG and overtake Edinson Cavani's haul, beating Brice Samba inside the box.

Further goals from Vitinha and Lionel Messi helped Christophe Galtier's side refocus on the pitch at Parc des Princes amid a week of off-field distractions.

Most importantly, it sees them open up a nine-point gap over Franck Haise's visitors, who face a monumental task to rein in the champions with seven games to go.

A cagey opening quarter exploded into life when Lens found themselves abruptly a man down, after Abdul Samed was shown a straight red for crunching into Achraf Hakimi's ankle.

PSG wasted little time in making their advantage count, with Mbappe driving his history-making goal in off the right post in the 31st minute as the prelude to a purple patch.

Vitinha buried a 25-yard rocket past Samba in the 37th minute to double the lead, before Messi played a one-two with Mbappe and slotted past the keeper three minutes later.

Hopes of a further rout did not come to fruition following the break however, and Lens were gifted a penalty lifeline when VAR cited Fabian Ruiz for a handball shortly before the hour mark.

Przemyslaw Frankowski duly sent Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way, and from there the visitors proceeded to punch above their weight in a lively last half-hour.

But there was to be no great comeback, and with three more points in their back pocket, it is PSG who hold all the cards heading into the final stretch of the season.

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    It is as you were between Tivoli Gardens and Waterhouse heading into the second-leg of their Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League quarter-final encounter, as they played out a 1-1 stalemate in first-leg action at Sabina Park on Monday.

    Javane Bryan, with his 15th goal of the season, gave Waterhouse the lead from a 44th-minute penalty, but substitute Lennox Russell replied for Tivoli Gardens in the 74th to ensure both teams remain level ahead of next Monday's decisive contest, at the same venue.

    Waterhouse's Head coach Marcel 'Fuzzy' Gayle was the happier of the two tacticians, having lost twice to Tivoli Gardens in the preliminary phase of the season.

    "We are grateful that we are still in it, so kudos to my team, I think we played well. We had an objective today and I think we met it the only disappointment is that we didn't keep a clean sheet because of that mistake and with our senior players on the park we should have done better in that moment.  So, we still can perform better and so we are going to put in the work for the next leg and go out there and play again," Gayle said in a post-match interview.

    "Tivoli is a quality team, they finished third which is a testament to their strength so we expected a close game, it did come down to fine margins and we know set plays can make a difference. So, it's something we have in our arsenal as we move forward," he added.

    It was a tentative start by both teams in the early exchanges as they moved the ball well but didn't really offer much in the attacking third at that point. In fact, it wasn't until in the 24th minute that Tivoli Gardens started to look more threatening in open play and even got the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be called back for a foul on Waterhouse's custodian Kemar Foster.

    Prior to that, the West Kingston team orchestrated a good build up play, which saw Anthony Nelson's header coming back off the crossbar, after he deflected Horatio Morgan's intended shot from an angle goalwards.

    At the other end, Nickoy Christian went close for Waterhouse with a 38th-minute freekick that was punched clear by Diego Haughton in goal for Tivoli Gardens. 

    The deadlock was eventually broken six minutes later when Bryan picked himself up and converted from the 12-yard spot, after he was felled by Nathan Thomas in the danger area, to put Waterhouse 1-0 up at the break. 

    Tivoli Gardens were more purposeful on the resumption, as the substitutions injected some tempo into their attacking thrust and they bossed possession and forced Waterhouse into a defensive posture. They again threatened in the 57th when Justin Dunn’s cross found Morgan, whose effort was charged down by a defender.

    However, they were back on level terms minutes later as substitute Rodico Wellington executed a cheeky freekick that eluded Waterhouse's custodian Foster, and another substitute Russell was well positioned to finish the rebound.

    From there, Tivoli Gardens went for the winner and should have had it in the 81st minute. This, as Nickalia Fuller's weighted cross found Wellington in space for a free header, but the once clinical player steered his effort wide of the target.

    Tivoli's Jerome Waite was pleased with his team's response after a lukewarm first half.

    "Put it this way, the first half we didn't play, and these players have to understand that attitude don't win game you have to come out and play. It was a different second half thanks to the substitutes, but we still have 90 more minutes to play so we just have to go back analyse what we need to do better and come out and do what we have to, to win the game," Waite shared.

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    England international Rice joined Mikel Arteta’s side from West Ham last summer for £100million, less than the £107m it cost to take World Cup winner Fernandez from Benfica to Stamford Bridge in January 2023.

    The fee for the Argentinian was a British record at the time, though the club have since surpassed it in signing fellow midfielder Moises Caicedo from Brighton for £115m.

    Rice has won plaudits for his transformational effect on Arsenal’s midfield, helping to forge a sturdier, more cohesive side than the one that fell away in the final weeks of last season’s Premier League title race.

    By contrast, Chelsea’s league position has not markedly improved in the 15 months since Fernandez arrived in west London, and despite clear flashes of his obvious talent and range of passing, question marks have remained over whether the club got value for money.

    However, his countryman Pochettino called for perspective on the obstacles that his player has had to contend with since arriving in England.

    “Declan Rice was playing for West Ham, an English guy who knows the Premier League, knows the language,” said the 52-year-old.

    “For Enzo, after the World Cup to arrive here, in a team that was inconsistent, difficult to get positive results, always it was really difficult.

    “In summer he was involved in too many games and he arrived late in pre-season, hasn’t had a holiday in the last two years.

    “Too many negative things happened. (It was) difficult for him to adapt, his family. It’s not easy to adapt and perform so quick.”

    Fernandez was responsible for creating Chelsea’s best chance of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City, hitting an incisive, raking pass from deep that sent Nicolas Jackson through on goal, but the striker could not finish.

    He has scored three Premier League goals and made four assists since moving from Portugal in the immediate aftermath of Argentina’s 2022 World Cup triumph, but Pochettino insisted the best is yet to come from the 23-year-old.

    “For sure he is going to be much better next season, after the experience of the whole season in this squad and this team,” he said.

    “He’s more experienced, he gets better feelings. The whole season is good for him to learn. Even if he is a world champion, he needs to adapt to the Premier League and to this club. For me, there is no doubt that he is going to be much better.”

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    The 30-year-old has scored 18 goals for the Serie A side this campaign after telling Chelsea last summer that he wanted to leave.

    “He’s a Chelsea player, so for sure we will pay attention,” said Pochettino. “It’s an option. But still we did not take any decision.”

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    Bellingham became the first footballer to claim the honour the day after scoring Real Madrid’s late winner in their 3-2 El Clasico victory over Barcelona.

    The 20-year-old has had an outstanding first season at Real since joining from Borussia Dortmund last summer, scoring 21 goals in all competitions.

    Djokovic was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for a record-equalling fifth time after winning the Australian Open, French Open and US Open to lead the way with 24 grand slam men’s singles titles.

    “I am incredibly honoured to have won my fifth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award,” said Djokovic.

    “I think back to 2012, when I won it for the first time as a 24-year-old. I am very proud to be here 12 years later, reflecting on a year that brought me and my fans a lot of excitement and success.

    “It was thrilling to return to Australia last January and win my 10th title. It is a tournament that is so dear to my heart and set me up for an incredible 12 months.

    “I could not have achieved so much success without an incredible team behind me, and inspirational rivals who have always pushed me to be the best version of myself.”

    Bonmati took to the stage twice to collect two awards – the first footballer to win the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year trophy and also represent the Spain team which won the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

    She said: “It is humbling to see the list of previous winners of this award.

    “From Serena Williams to Simone Biles, Lindsey Vonn, Naomi Osaka and last year’s winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, they are all incredible athletes who have not only excelled in their chosen sports, but been incredible role models for younger generations of young women and girls.

    “As the first women’s team to win the Laureus, we are proud of our status as pioneers and as a group we are as committed to equality and representation as we are to what we do on the football pitch.”

    American gymnast Biles, a three-time winner of Sportswoman of the Year, won the World Comeback of the Year Award.

    Biles collected four gold medals at the World Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, her first global event since leaving the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health issues and entering a near two-year break from the sport she had dominated.

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    :: The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards took place on Monday 22 April in Madrid, celebrating the leading names in sport from across the globe. To find out more, visit www.laureus.com.

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