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PSG edge out Lorient to restore Ligue 1 lead

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar (centre) celebrates with his teammates. Photo: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP

Danilo Pereira headed a late winner as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-1 at fourth-placed Lorient and strengthened their hold on first place in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

The victory restored PSG’s five-point lead over Lens, who beat Angers on Saturday.

PSG manager Christophe Galtier made four changes from the team that won at Juventus on Wednesday.

One of the stars who kept his place, Kylian Mbappe, came off with five minutes left but Galtier said the France striker was not suffering an injury that could threaten his World Cup.

“It is fatigue related to the sequence of matches,” Galtier said. 

“It’s a very busy schedule, with some anxiety. Everyone is listening to their body in this pre-World Cup period. There can be a fear.”

PSG started by pressing aggressively.

Neymar gave PSG the lead after nine minutes. The Brazilian closed down goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo and blocked his clearance.

The ball ran wide to Hugo Ekitike, replacing Lionel Messi in the starting line-up. Ekitike rolled it back to Neymar, who danced round Mvogo and stroked the ball into the net.

The goal was Neymar’s 11th in the league this season, taking him level as top scorer in Ligue 1 with Mbappe.

Mvogo, a back-up goalkeeper for Switzerland who have qualified for the World Cup, was injured in the build-up to the goal. 

“There is necessarily a little concern but it is a little early to judge,” said Lorient coach Regis Le Bris.

Mvogo was replaced by former Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone who stopped a header by Sergio Ramos, a shot on the run by Mbappe and a strike by Ekitike all before half-time.

Gedeon Kalulu also cleared a shot from Achraf Hakimi off the line just before the break.

The Parisians, who reverted to a five-man defence after playing four at the back in their previous four games, did not give the home team many chances in the first half.

“The first one was to our advantage, we started quite high, we managed to win the ball quite quickly,” said Galtier. “We opened the scoring and we had three or four opportunities to score a second.

“When you play one match after another, you have to start strong and try to hurt the opponent.”

Lorient, who drew at home with PSG last December and beat them when lying last in Ligue 1 the previous season, did not give up.

They levelled in the 53rd minute when Terem Moffi ran onto a pass from Vincent Le Goff and thumped a shot inside the near post and into the roof of Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal.

‘Go for the victory’

The Nigerian striker came close to a second four minutes later when his shot bounced off the crossbar.

PSG tightened their defence but struggled to move forward. 

They had to rely on set-pieces.

From a pinpoint Neymar corner, Pereira took advantage of light marking to restore PSG’s lead with a powerful 81st-minute header.

Neymar’s assist was his ninth this term, second in the league to absent team-mate Messi.

“He’s making a lot of effort,” said Galtier. 

“Obviously he is very motivated for the World Cup… but for me there is no reason why he should not perform in the second part of the season.”

The defeat means surprise early challengers Lorient have gone three games without a win.

Marseille ended a four-match winless streak in the league to move above Lorient, who dropped to sixth, into fourth with a 1-0 victory over Laurent Blanc’s Lyon.

Centre-back Samuel Gigot scored the only goal shortly before half-time as OM bounced back from being dumped out of Europe by Tottenham in midweek.

Rennes climbed to third despite a 1-1 draw at Lille, while Nice extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to six games with a 1-0 success against Brest.

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