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Mbappe strikes as PSG sink 10-man Lens to stretch Ligue 1 lead

Kylian Mbappe scored and Gianluigi Donnarumma saved a penalty as Paris Saint-Germain surged eight points clear at the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over last season’s runners-up Lens.

Bradley Barcola gave PSG the lead with his second goal for the French champions after Donnarumma had kept out an early spot-kick from Przemyslaw Frankowski at the Stade Bollaert.

Mbappe struck a minute from time with his 19th league goal of the season as PSG took full advantage of slip-ups this weekend by Nice and Monaco.

“I was pleased with the whole match, I think my team is competitive each time and today was no exception,” said PSG coach Luis Enrique.

“You want madness but I want control.”

Lens are a far cry from the team that finished a point behind PSG last term, but their home form remains strong and they had an 11-match unbeaten run snapped just before the winter break.

However their hopes of fighting back suffered a critical blow when Jonathan Gradit was sent off late in the first half following a VAR review for bringing down Barcola as the last defender.

With the focus intensifying on Mbappe and his future plans, Lens had the chance to strike first as Danilo fouled Elye Wahi inside the area after just five minutes.

Frankowski drilled his kick right down the middle but the giant Donnarumma stayed put and blocked the ball with his knees.

The Italy goalkeeper then batted away a shot from Wahi before excellent defensive work from Danilo helped spring Mbappe to set up Barcola.

Mbappe strode forward and waited patiently to slip Barcola in behind the Lens defence, the young winger clipping an unerring finish past Brice Samba from a tricky angle.

Gradit’s red card only added to the challenge for Lens, who threatened intermittently in the second half without unduly troubling Donnarumma.

Mbappe put the result beyond doubt in the 89th minute, running onto a pass from Ousmane Dembele and driving low beyond Samba into the far corner.

PSG are eight points clear of Nice, who lost 2-0 at Rennes on Saturday. Brest are another point adrift, while Monaco dropped to fourth after going down 3-1 at home to Reims.

– Brest on the rise –
Earlier on Sunday, Brest climbed to third with a 2-0 home victory over Montpellier to continue their surprise push for European football.

Hugo Magnetti opened the scoring just after half-time in Brittany and substitute Jeremy Le Douaron struck in stoppage time to seal a sixth win in seven games for Eric Roy’s side.

They moved above Monaco and now sit in an automatic Champions League qualification spot.

“We’re going through a good patch, we have to make the most of it. We know in football things happen very quickly, one way or another,” said Roy, the one-time Sunderland midfielder.

Lille eased to a 3-0 win over Lorient with goals from Jonathan David, Remy Cabella and Edon Zhegrova. Clermont’s 2-1 victory at Nantes pushed Lorient to the foot of the table.

Toulouse picked up only their third win of the season after beating Metz 1-0, leaving Lyon in the relegation play-off spot after they lost 3-1 at Le Havre.

Gautier Lloris, the brother of former France goalkeeper Hugo, put Le Havre ahead with Emmanuel Sabbi and Christopher Operi striking either side of a goal from Alexandre Lacazette.

Lyon had Jake O’Brien sent off in the first half and finished with nine men as Duje Caleta-Car also saw red, their mini-revival abruptly halted after finishing 2023 with three wins in a row.

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