PARIS: On a frustrating day for the world’s two most expensive players, and with the club’s top scorer rested, it was unheralded defender Thomas Meunier who got Paris Saint-Germain’s goals in a 2-1 win at Dijon on Saturday.
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe cost PSG a combined 402 million euros ($478 million) when they joined in the offseason. They had an off day, although Mbappe made some amends by setting up Meunier’s winner in the second minute of injury time.
It was the attack-minded right back’s fourth goal in four games, including one for Belgium last weekend in a World Cup qualifier. “I always try and follow things up, that’s my style,” Meunier said. “I love bringing something to the attack.” The win moved French league leader PSG six points clear of defending champion Monaco, which lost at Lyon 3-2 on Friday.
PSG was without Edinson Cavani – left out after playing for Uruguay in World Cup qualifying this week – but carved out enough chances to win easily. PSG was coasting to victory until the 87th minute, when Dijon launched a hopeful ball up the field, forcing PSG center half Marquinhos to hack clear. The looping ball fell to forward Benjamin Jeannot some 35 yards out and he hit a tremendous left-footed volley over the head of goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
Then Mbappe’s cross fell to Meunier on the edge of the area, and his low shot squeezed through the legs of defender Oussama Haddadi and over the line. “We fought hard the whole game and showed that we could stand up to PSG,” Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet said. “We got back into the game in an incredible way, so it’s a pity to concede that goal the way we did. We lost a bit of concentration.”
Dijon played with a high energy and harried PSG all over the pitch, forcing mistakes. PSG’s frustration showed when Neymar was shown a yellow card for a cheap foul on Dijon defender Cedric Varrault. Reynet made a stunning reflex save to push away Mbappe’s low volley and saved again moments later from Neymar’s strike, but could not recover in time to stop Meunier’s low shot slipping under his body in the 70th.
Saint-Etienne scored three late goals to beat Metz 3-1 and move up to third place, while Caen dropped down to eighth spot after losing 2-0 at home to Angers. Guingamp moved up to ninth with a 2-0 home win over Rennes, but Lille’s struggles continued as it conceded an injury-time goal in a 2-2 home draw with Troyes. Striker Andy Delort’s first-half goal sealed mid-table Toulouse a 1-0 home win against Amiens.
In other games, Marseille looks for a fourth straight league win when it travels to Strasbourg; Bordeaux faces Nantes and Montpellier takes on Nice. – AP