Mbappe goals see PSG all but secure Ligue 1 title

 

Kylian Mbappe of PSG celebrates his second goal with Hugo Ekitike (left) during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between AJ Auxerre (AJA) and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Stade de l'Abbe Deschamps on May 21, 2023 in Auxerre, France.

Paris Saint-Germain all but secured the Ligue 1 title on Sunday as a Kylian Mbappe brace gave them a 2-1 win away to Auxerre that left the Qatar-owned club six points clear at the top of the table with two games remaining.

PSG had hoped to officially confirm a second straight championship triumph, and a ninth in the last 11 seasons, but they needed closest rivals Lens to slip up earlier in the day.

Lens won 3-1 at Lorient, and so PSG still require one point from their final two matches to secure a French record 11th title overall.

However, a goal difference advantage of 16 over Lens means they are almost certain to win the title even if they end the season level on points with their closest rivals.

PSG, whose final two matches are away at Strasbourg and at home to Clermont, will move ahead of Saint-Etienne’s previous record of 10 titles which they equalled last year.

Mbappe’s goals both came in the first eight minutes in Burgundy as he moved on to 28 for the season, two ahead of Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette on top of the Ligue 1 scorers’ chart.

He struck in the sixth minute, collecting a Fabian Ruiz pass and turning home defender Gauthier Hein inside out before shooting high into the net.

It was 2-0 two minutes later, as Hugo Ekitike left a Lionel Messi pass for Mbappe to rifle in a shot from the edge of the area.

Auxerre saw Rayan Raveloson hit the bar late in the first half and Lassine Sinayoko pulled one back six minutes after the break.

“My players have their hands on the trophy. Now we need to finish on a high in the next two matches and lift the trophy at home on the last day,” PSG coach Christophe Galtier told broadcaster Amazon Prime.

Galtier and PSG have come in for criticism during a challenging second half of the season, in which they have lost six times in Ligue 1 and were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich in the last 16.

“When we look back and analyse the season, we had a very difficult period after the World Cup with injuries to key players,” Galtier added. “Our squad was severely weakened in big games and that led to us playing badly, but believe me, it is still a performance to win the league.”

Lens came from behind to win their game and move a step closer to securing a place in next season’s Champions League group stage.

Romain Faivre put Lorient ahead inside six minutes, pouncing to score after Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba was put under pressure at a throw-in.

Yet Lens came roaring back to record a fifth straight victory, equalising when a Florian Sotoca shot deflected in on 20 minutes.

Adrien Thomasson capitalised on poor defending to put Lens in front five minutes later, with captain Seko Fofana wrapping up the points late on. Lens have won nine of their last 10 games, the exception being a 3-1 defeat away to PSG. They have been chiefly focused on securing second place and direct qualification for next season’s Champions League group stage, a level the club last appeared at two decades ago.

They are five points ahead of third-placed Marseille with two games to go. Third place enters the Champions League in the third qualifying round. “There is no such thing as ‘almost’ in the Champions League in the mind of a coach,” said prudent Lens manager Franck Haise. “You are either qualified or you’re not, and for the moment we are not.”

Rennes kept alive their hopes of qualifying for Europe as Amine Gouiri scored a hat-trick in their 5-0 win at already-relegated Ajaccio. Rennes remain sixth with two games left, and with only the top five qualifying for Europe.

However, they are just a point adrift of Lille and three behind fourth-placed Monaco, who they face next.

Folarin Balogun, who this week switched international allegiance from England to the United States, scored his 20th Ligue 1 goal this season for Reims as they drew 2-2 with Angers.

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