December 6, 2018 7:56:34 am
Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to rescue Paris Saint-Germain from its first defeat of the season when he earned a second-half penalty in a 1-1 draw at Strasbourg on Wednesday. After a poor opening half when PSG struggled to string any passes together under Strasbourg’s intense pressing, Mbappe galvanized his side but ultimately could not prevent a second straight draw.
“It wasn’t a good match from us. It’s always hard to play here because they give everything and they deserved a draw,” PSG winger Julian Draxler said. “We didn’t lose but normally we should win. It’s a second draw for us and we have to improve ahead of our next match in the Champions League (against Red Star Belgrade).”
Unbeaten in 16 league games, defending champion PSG is 14 points ahead of second-place Lille.
With 20 minutes remaining Mbappe was felled by Kenny Lala – who had put Strasbourg ahead with a first-half penalty – and striker Edinson Cavani coolly converted from the spot for his 10th league goal of the season.
Strasbourg handed PSG one of only three defeats last season and came close to doing it again.
In a dramatic finale, midfielder Adrien Thomasson had a dipping shot acrobatically saved by PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, and had a point-blank header ruled out for offside in the fifth minute of injury time.
In the sixth minute of added-on time, PSG had a free kick on the edge of the area but with its tallest players crowding the box, veteran defender Dani Alves bizarrely went for goal and skewed the ball wide.
With Neymar sidelined with an apparent recurrence of a groin injury sustained playing for Brazil recently, PSG labored and Strasbourg was good for its 41st-minute lead. The home side’s penalty was given for handball by defender Thilo Kehrer, who gave away a third penalty this season.
Referee Antony Gautier initially did not give it, but changed his mind following a video assistant review showing Kehrer moving his arm toward a cross. Lala confidently sent Areola the wrong way.
PSG had dropped its first points of the season in a 2-2 draw at Bordeaux on Sunday.
Coach Thomas Tuchel brought on Mbappe – fourth in the Ballon d’Or award this week – and his side perked up.
Mbappe almost set up an equalizer five minutes after coming on with a cross for Kehrer, but his header was well saved by Belgian goalie Matz Sels.
Mbappe then set up Cavani and the striker’s effort was disallowed for offside.
Sels saved another Kehrer header before ninth-place Strasbourg finished strongly.
Lyon’s unbeaten run ended when it lost 2-0 at home to Rennes, with Hatem Ben Arfa scoring against his former club.
The hosts, which spurned a chance to move up to second in the league, had not lost in nine games in all competitions since a 5-0 defeat at PSG two months ago.
Winger Ben Arfa netted in the 41st minute with a superb solo goal and striker Jordan Siebatcheu scored two minutes later.
Lyon is fourth, one point behind Montpellier and two adrift of Lille.
Marseille twice took the lead before losing 3-2 at Nantes.
The visitors struck through midfielder Morgan Sanson and winger Florian Thauvin’s penalty, his 11th goal of the campaign, but striker Emiliano Sala replied with a firm header to join Mbappe at the top of the scoring charts on 12.
Sala then set up a goal for midfielder Abdoulaye Toure before attacking midfielder Gabriel Boschilia slotted the Nantes winner.
“We were the kings of stupidity tonight,” Marseille coach Rudi Garcia said.
Marseille stays fifth because sixth-place Saint-Etienne lost 3-2 at 10th-place Bordeaux.
Defender Loick Landre grabbed a 96th-minute winner as Nimes won 2-1 at Caen to climb to eighth.
It was also Dijon 2, Guingamp 1 and Reims 0, Toulouse 1.
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