Alamy Stock Photo PSG's Lionel Messi, top, celebrates with his teammates after scoring.
# Take a Bow
Messi snatches extraordinary win, Neymar stretchered off
Paris Saint-Germain secured a dramatic 4-3 victory over Lille today.

Updated at 22.11

LIONEL MESSI scored a 95th-minute free-kick to give Paris Saint-Germain a 4-3 win over Lille in an extraordinary Ligue 1 game on Sunday in which Kylian Mbappe scored twice but Neymar was taken off on a stretcher with an ankle injury.

Messi’s last-gasp winner came after PSG had squandered a two-goal lead and fallen 3-2 behind, with Mbappe grabbing a late equaliser before the Argentine’s stunning strike.

The result ends a run of three straight defeats for PSG and ensures they end the weekend as they started it, five points clear of second-placed Marseille, who won 3-2 at Toulouse and host the Parisians next.

“We came through it. It wasn’t a great performance,” Mbappe told broadcaster Amazon Prime.

“We made lots of mistakes and lost concentration too often and against a quality side you pay dearly for that, but we showed that even when we are not at our best and the context is not exactly favourable we are a different team with different players and we can always find a way.”

Of immediate concern to PSG is the injury to Neymar, who looked to be in tears as he was helped onto a stretcher early in the second half after turning his right ankle.

 - No fracture -

 PSG later confirmed a scan had shown no fracture, but said further tests would need to be carried out on the damage to the ligaments in the coming days, building fears the Brazilian could miss the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich on March 8.

“I hope ‘Ney’ is going to come back quickly because he is an important player for us,” added Mbappe, as PSG also saw Nuno Mendes forced off with an ankle problem.

Christophe Galtier’s team were looking to bounce back from a 1-0 home loss to Bayern in the first leg of that European tie, and they went ahead early on against Lille through Mbappe — making his first start after returning from a recent thigh injury.

Neymar soon made it 2-0 against a side PSG beat 7-1 in their last meeting in August, but Bafode Diakite pulled one back for Lille midway through the first half.

The home side then saw Neymar carried off within five minutes of the second half starting, and Lille drew level when Jonathan David converted a penalty for his 17th goal this season following a Marco Verratti foul in the box.

Jonathan Bamba made it 3-2 to the away side with a superb finish and the hosts looked set for a fourth successive loss before Mbappe converted from a Juan Bernat assist with three minutes remaining.

That was his 27th goal this season in all competitions, but it was not the end of the drama as Messi won a free-kick when he was fouled just outside the area by Benjamin Andre.

The World Cup winner stepped up to dispatch the dead ball into the net off the post to round off a remarkable game.

 - Marseille keep up pressure -

 Marseille have now won nine and drawn one of 11 league games played since their elimination from the Champions League in early November, after they came from behind to win in Toulouse.

Dutch striker Thijs Dallinga gave mid-table Toulouse an early lead, but Marseille came roaring back in the second half at Le Stadium.

Chancel Mbemba equalised and Cengiz Under put Marseille in front before Nuno Tavares netted his sixth goal of the season on loan from Arsenal, with Ado Onaiwu pulling one back for the hosts.

Monaco followed up their 3-1 victory over PSG last weekend by winning 2-1 in Brest to sit two points behind Marseille in third.

Aleksandr Golovin and Myron Boadu scored for the principality side, with Jeremy Le Douaron pulling one back.

Fourth-placed Lens were 3-1 winners against Nantes, while Rennes moved back above Lille into fifth by beating Clermont 2-0, ex-PSG forward Arnaud Kalimuendo scoring both of their goals.

There were also wins for Lorient and Montpellier, while Strasbourg moved out of the relegation zone on Saturday by beating bottom side Angers 2-1 on new coach Frederic Antonetti’s debut.

Fellow strugglers Auxerre beat Lyon 2-1 on Friday, while Nice and Reims drew 0-0.

In Germany, Borussia Dortmund blew the Bundesliga title race wide open with a 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin on Sunday, but in-form striker Karim Adeyemi limped off clutching his hamstring in the first half.

The win saw Dortmund pull level on points with league leaders Bayern Munich and high-flying Union Berlin, who were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Schalke earlier on Sunday.

Adeyemi’s injury made for a bittersweet evening, with the 21-year-old limping off almost in tears just minutes after putting his side on their way with a quickfire goal and assist.

Dortmund started a little sluggishly after their 1-0 Champions League win over Chelsea in midweek, and Hertha could have taken the lead when Jessic Ngankam skimmed the bar early on.

The Signal-Iduna-Park was soon bouncing, though, as Adeyemi gave Dortmund the lead with a brilliant backheel on 27 minutes.

Adeyemi set up Donyell Malen for his side’s second with a brilliant cross four minutes later, but was already clutching his hamstring as he curled the ball into the box.

There was fresh hope for relegation-threatened Hertha when Lucas Tousart thundered the ball in off the bar just after the break to halve Dortmund’s lead.

But Dortmund overcame their nerves once more and Marco Reus smashed a direct free-kick into the top corner to restore the two-goal cushion.

Julian Brandt made it four late on, linking up with Jamie Bynoe-Gittens to score for a third league game in a row.

In one of the most intriguing Bundesliga title races for years, Dortmund, Union and Bayern are now all on 43 points after Bayern’s surprise defeat to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday. 

-Union stumble at home-

Union missed the opportunity to leapfrog Bayern into first with a miserable 0-0 draw at home to bottom club Schalke.

Schalke have now battled to a league record four goalless draws in a row, and they frustrated Union with another dogged performance.

In a torturous first half for spectators, the only moment of relief came when Schalke keeper Ralf Faehrmann pulled off a brilliant reflex save to deny Danilho Doekhi.

Schalke looked the more dangerous side in the second half, with Union appearing to be running on empty after their Europa League draw with Ajax last Thursday.

US international Jordan Pefok missed a chance to snatch a late winner when he skied a tough chance high over the bar from close range on 81 minutes.

“It’s normal that we have the odd game like this and Schalke played really well. We know every point is important and I am happy that we are still unbeaten this year,” said Union captain Christopher Trimmel.

Union remain in the title race ahead of their clash with reigning champions in Munich next weekend.

Schalke, meanwhile, are still six points adrift of safety, having not won in the league since last November.

In Spain, Robert Lewandowski netted his 24th Barcelona goal to help the Catalans beat Cadiz 2-0 and restore their eight-point lead at the top of La Liga on Sunday.

Champions Real Madrid’s win at Osasuna the day before pulled them closer to Xavi Hernandez’s side, who had one eye on Thursday’s Europa League play-off second leg against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

However an inspired Ferran Torres helped Sergi Roberto to break the deadlock and Lewandowski added a second to win the game and leave Cadiz, 17th, two points above the relegation zone.

The visitors had two goals disallowed and made Barcelona uncomfortable at times at Camp Nou but their victory rarely seemed in doubt.

Xavi began with Sergi Roberto in midfield, replacing Pedri, who suffered a thigh injury in the Europa League 2-2 first leg draw with Manchester United last Thursday.

However it was Torres’ arrival that made the difference for Barcelona in the first half.

The winger has struggled badly at times this season, largely left out of the picture, but with Ousmane Dembele injured and Raphinha rested to face United, the former Manchester City forward took his chance with both hands.

Torres was hyperactive, dribbling past defenders at pace and tying Cadiz’s defence in knots.

One such run down the right saw him cross for Lewandowski after 43 minutes and although the Polish striker’s effort was saved, Sergi Roberto was on hand to smash home the rebound.

Three minutes later Barcelona doubled their lead when Lewandowski collected the ball on the edge of the Cadiz box and fired a low strike into the bottom corner past Jeremias Ledesma.

Barcelona took their foot off the gas in the second half, although Lewandowski came close to a second with a lobbed effort that clipped the top of the crossbar.

La Liga’s top scorer with 15 goals, Lewandowski has not been at his sharpest since the World Cup but slowly seems to be returning to it.

Cadiz striker Roger Marti, who had a goal ruled out for offside early on, was infuriated as another was struck from the record in the second half.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was challenged by Cadiz defender Fali before Roger shot and the referee deemed the contact enough to be a foul.

Ter Stegen made a fine save to deny substitute Chris Ramos at the near post and keep yet another clean sheet, with Barcelona having conceded just seven goals from 22 matches in La Liga.

In Europe it has been another story, with Xavi hoping his side can prove more sturdy at the back against Man United than they were in the first leg.

– © AFP 2023

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