Should Lens miss out on a place in next season’s Champions League, Salis Abdul Samed’s rash challenge on Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi at the Parc des Princes on Saturday night might be proffered as one of the reasons for their disappointment.
Before the Ghanaian’s lunge on the Morocco international mid way through the first-half, Lens were lording it over the Ligue 1 pacesetters.
The PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma saved Samed’s goalbound header in the third minute during the early barrage in which Lens sprayed the ball around with confident purpose and menace aforethought.
Franck Haise’s team started the day six points behind their star- clustered adversaries and a victory would not only have proffered up the prospect of a title race but also improved Lens’ chances of an automatic berth in European club football’s most prestigious competition.
Even after Samed’s dismissal, Lens held their own – helped in no little measure by poor marksmanship.
Nuno Mendes galloped from his own half past three Lens players but his tepid shot from the edge of the box belied the preceding flamboyance.
PSG’s opener came from an expected source just after the half hour. Kylian Mbappé slashed a shot towards goal from the left which went in off the post.
It was the 24-year-old’s first goal in four games and a club record 139th strike in the top flight.
And a few minutes later, it was effectively game over and a nine point lead at the top.
Lionel Messi scurried towards the target, passed to Mbappé – who was facing him – and continued his run as Mbappé back-heeled the ball into his path.
The Argentine picked his spot on the left hand side of Brice Samba’s goal.
It was the 35-year-old’s 495th goal and a record for the top five European leagues.
With a 3-0 advantage, the second-half descended into an exercise of containment rather than a rabid rush for more goals.
Fabian Ruiz gave away a penalty on the hour mark and Przemyslaw Frankowski converted but PSG failed to implode.
Lens have seven games left to hunt down PSG who appear on course for a record 11th top flight crown.
“It was an important victory,”
“Even though we benefited from having the extra man, in the second-half we let ourselves go a bit.
“Positions were no longer respected. We should have been more serious and more aggressive offensively. We gave Lens a little bit of hope.”Galtier told the French broadcaster Canal +.
Marseille can move into second place – eight points behind PSG – if they beat Troyes at the Vélodrome on Sunday night.
Rennes moved up to fifth on Saturday night with a 3-0 win over Reims. Belgium international Jérémy Doku bagged a brace in the first-half and compatriot Arthur Teate added the third mid way through the second-half.