SPORTS DESK : 22 APRIL, 2023, 11:15 PM
Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain took another step towards securing the Ligue 1 title despite an unconvincing performance in beating bottom club Angers 2-1 on Friday.
Mbappe scored the opener in the ninth minute and added another before the half-hour mark to move clear as the French top flight’s leading marksman on 22 goals for the campaign.
It looked like PSG might go on to record a big victory but they eased off in the second half and relegation-bound Angers pulled a goal back late on through Sada Thioub.
PSG are now 11 points clear at the top of the table with six games left, although nearest challengers Marseille can cut the gap when they visit Lyon on Sunday.
A record 11th French crown, and ninth since the Qatari takeover of 2011, is now inevitable with the capital club claiming a third straight win to ease the pressure on embattled coach Christophe Galtier.
However, Galtier was critical of his side’s performance after they failed to build on a strong start, just like in last week’s 3-1 win over Lens when all their goals came before half-time.
“As much as we were serious and clinical in the first half, like Lens last week we took our foot off the pedal completely in the second half,” Galtier told broadcaster Amazon Prime.
“We played without any rhythm and didn’t really try to add to our lead. There is frustration for me as a coach. Of course we won and are top of the league but when you are at Paris Saint-Germain you can’t settle for only playing for half of the game.”
– Galtier ‘focused’ –
Appointed last year, Galtier’s position was under serious scrutiny following a poor start to 2023 as PSG went out of the Champions League and French Cup in the last 16.
He has since come under further pressure after being accused of making racist and discriminatory remarks about players last season when in charge of Nice.
Prosecutors in Nice have opened a preliminary investigation into possible “racial or religious discrimination” following the allegations, which surfaced in an email apparently sent by former Nice sporting director Julien Fournier and which were reported by various French media.
Galtier, who rigorously denies the allegations, has been the target of threats and on Friday his lawyer confirmed the 56-year-old was taking legal action against Fournier and two journalists for defamation.
“I am not interested in my situation. I am focused on the team, the importance of winning games and winning the club’s 11th title, so I am managing to see past everything that is happening outside,” Galtier said.
His team never really looked in trouble after Mbappe opened the scoring early on, bundling the ball over the line at the second attempt after Juan Bernat cushioned a pass across the face of goal.
Lionel Messi had been at the origin of the opener and he then set up the second with a superb ball in behind the Angers defence for Mbappe to round goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni and score.
He now has 34 goals in all competitions this season and the 157th Ligue 1 strike of his career means he has now bypassed the great Jean-Pierre Papin’s career tally.
Thioub reduced the deficit with three minutes left when he beat Gianluigi Donnarumma from close range after a cross was nodded down into his path.
Angers are now 17 points from safety with six games left and could be relegated this weekend depending on other results.
They have managed just three wins all season and need three more points to avoid setting a new record for the fewest points in a French top-flight campaign. -BSS
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