PSG blow chance to seal French league title

French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain squandered their chance to wrap up their second consecutive Ligue 1 title after drawing at lowly Sochaux on Sunday. PSG however remain eight points clear with three games to go. Catch up on all the latest Ligue 1 action.

PSG blow chance to seal French league title
PSG striker Edinson Cavani grimaces as his team fails to beat struggling Sochaux to get their hands on the Ligue 1 title. Photo: Patrick Hertzog/AFP

Paris Saint-Germain's hopes of wrapping up the Ligue 1 title for a second successive season on Sunday were dashed as they were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Sochaux.

Edinson Cavani put PSG in front in the first half, but a second-half Thiago Silva own goal earned Sochaux a share of the spoils and left Laurent Blanc's side eight points clear of nearest challengers Monaco with three games remaining.

They will now have to wait until hosting Rennes on Wednesday, May 7 for another chance to wrap up the title.

Sochaux, meanwhile, are four points adrift of safety but two of their last three games are against fellow relegation candidates Rennes and Evian.

Blanc will be concerned at how PSG looked comfortable in the first half but then played largely second fiddle to Sochaux in the second period.

"Sochaux played really well and deserved the point," he admitted to beIN Sports after the game.

"In all honesty we probably didn't deserve to take the three points today. Some people assume we have won the title but we still have a little left to do so we have to go out and do it."

Sochaux coach Herve Renard, whose side have now won five and drawn two of their last seven games at their own Stade Bonal, said: "The result is satisfying. The shame is that we didn't play in the first half as we did in the second, because if we had done we could have won the match.

Cavani had an early sight of goal and the Uruguayan produced a superb right-footed shot from the edge of the area in the 20th minute which Yohann Pele tipped over.

Lucas then went even closer from the resulting corner as the Brazilian's header was hacked off the line by a Sochaux defender.

Superb opening goal

However, four minutes later PSG were ahead as Cavani chested down a superb long ball from Thiago Motta and then volleyed past Pele for his 16th league goal of the season.

The hosts came close to levelling in time added on at the end of the first period as Jordan Ayew's clever lay-off found Sebastien Roudet, who got between Motta and Silva only for Salvatore Sirigu to save with his legs.

Sochaux also protested furiously for a penalty as a shot on goal hit Cavani's arm in the box but the referee waved away the appeals.

However, the hosts deservedly drew level in the 56th minute, with on-loan Marseille forward Ayew again heavily involved.

Sirigu beat away Sebastien Corchia's shot from the right but it came back to Ayew out on the left.

The Ghanaian international's backheel released Florian Marange and his cross was met by the PSG goalkeeper's fist only for the ball to rebound off Silva and trickle into the net.

It was not the first own goal scored by Silva this season, as the Brazilian also put through his own net in the 1-1 draw with Monaco in February.

Sochaux's Bosnian midfielder Sanjin Prcic had two good efforts from outside the area which went just wide of the PSG goal while Lucas shaved the post with a right-footed effort for the visitors.

PSG's Italian midfielder Marco Verratti was then denied when left with just Pele to beat, before substitute Cedric Bakambu somehow failed to get a touch to an Ayew cross at the other end with the goal gaping.

Cavani should have made Sochaux pay for that miss when he was well set up by Lucas but his shot was wild and high and left Blanc biting his fingers in frustration.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Salomon Kalou had an eventful evening as Lille beat Bordeaux 2-1 to close in on Champions League qualification.

The Ivorian scored the opener, but later hit the post and then had a penalty saved in Lille's win, which keeps them firnly on course to finish third.

Lyon beat Bastia 4-1 at the Stade de Gerland to stay on course for European qualification themselves, with Bafetimbi Gomis, Nabil Fekir, Bakary Kone and Alexandre Lacazette getting their goals.

OL remain fifth and sit five points clear of Marseille, who they face next Sunday.

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OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP