PARIS: Paris St Germain’s Ligue 1 title hopes took a major knock on Sunday when the defending champions were held to a 1-1 draw at Stade Rennes, leaving Lille holding a three-point advantage at the top with two games remaining.
Neymar opened the scoring with a penalty on the stroke of halftime but Serhou Guirassy equalised in the 70th minute to leave PSG, who finished with 10 men after Presnel Kimpembe was sent off in the 87th minute, on 76 points.
Lille, on 79 after thrashing neighbours RC Lens 3-0 away on Friday, need four points from their last two matches against mid-table St Etienne and Angers to guarantee their first Ligue 1 title since 2011.
Monaco are third on 74 points after beating Stade de Reims 1-0 away earlier on Sunday, one point ahead of fourth-placed Olympique Lyonnais, who beat Lorient 4-1 on Saturday.
Monaco struck in the 20th minute through midfielder Eliot Matazo, who made a surging run from deep inside his own half and swapped passes with Wissam Ben Yedder on the edge of the penalty area before finishing confidently.
PSG, who were knocked out in the Champions League semi-finals by Manchester City on Tuesday, could face the prospect of finishing the season without a major trophy.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side travel to Montpellier in the French Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.
“We will keep believing until the end, we won’t lose faith, but at PSG we need to do much better,” captain Marquinhos told broadcaster Canal Plus. “Lille are a really good side and are winning every match. We have two games left and we need to believe, focus on ourselves and perform better.”
PSG led through Neymar’s penalty seconds before halftime. It was given after a long video review, even though it looked like Nayef Aguerd made a clean tackle in the area on left back Layvin Kurzawa.
After PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas saved midfielder Flavien Tait’s fine curler from 20 metres out midway through the second half, Rennes striker Guirassy superbly headed home winger Benjamin Bourigeaud’s corner.
PSG could have lost for the ninth time in the league this season. But the alert Navas saved again from Tait’s drilled shot in the first minute of injury time.
Seventh-place Rennes was rewarded for a strong performance by slightly closing the gap to one point on Lens and fifth-placed Olympique de Marseille in the Europa League spot.
Marseille dropped crucial points in the race for the Europa League after a 1-0 defeat at St Etienne but are fifth on goal difference.
Elsewhere, it was: Angers 3, Dijon 0; Nice 3, Brest 2; Metz 0, Nimes 3; and Strasbourg 2, Montpellier 3.
Nimes are 19th and two points behind Nantes in 18th the relegation-playoff position with two rounds remaining.
Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2021