Lucas rescues PSG, 10-man Monaco edge Montpellier
Lucas grabbed a controversial late winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Lille 2-1 on Tuesday to stay three points behind Monaco after the Ligue 1 leaders secured a gritty 2-1 victory at Montpellier.
Edinson Cavani netted his league-leading 23rd goal of the season to put the reigning champions ahead on 70 minutes at the Parc des Princes.
A dreadful mistake from Alphonse Areola allowed Nicolas de Preville to level with four minutes left, but Lucas claimed a crucial three points for PSG in stoppage time despite being in an offside position.
“We never gave up despite conceding a goal just a few minutes from the end. We kept going and were able to get the winner,” Lucas told Canal+ Sport.
Lille boss Patrick Collot admitted to feeling “huge frustration” and called for video technology to help out referees in such situations.
“That’s the vagaries of football and it will be until there is video to help the referees,” said Collot.
After scoring twice in the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat of Dijon, Unai Emery’s side again left it late to keep themselves within touching distance of Monaco.
Areola made a sharp low save to keep out Franck Beria’s first-half header, while PSG struggled to convert their dominance into a lead as Vincent Enyeama stuck out a strong right hand to thwart Angel Di Maria on the hour.
But Cavani eventually broke the deadlock when he steered a looping free-kick into the far corner via a combination of head and shoulder.
Lille looked to have snatched a point when Areola lost control of a backpass under pressure from Eric Bautheac, with fellow substitute De Preville gleefully slotting home the equaliser.
However, Lucas forced the ball in from close range in the second minute of added-on time after Cavani’s initial shot was charged down amid a desperate scramble in the Lille box.
– Injuries cloud Monaco win –
Earlier, Poland international Kamil Glik’s brave header gave Monaco a 16th-minute lead in Montpellier before 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe struck on the counter-attack to double their advantage five minutes later.
Veteran Brazilian centre-back Vitorino Hilton pulled a goal back early in the second half, but Monaco withstood a late onslaught despite the dismissal of Jemerson for a second booking.
“I congratulated the players, it’s good to be able to weather the storm and keep a lead intact,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim.
“You never win every game in football and that was the time to defend the lead, to show that attitude.
“It’s important for a team to have this mentality, lots of matches are lost in the last 10 minutes.”
Despite Montpellier hovering just three points above the relegation zone, Monaco were fully aware of the dangers facing them at the Stade de la Mosson where PSG were thrashed 3-0 in December.
Monaco grabbed the opening goal on the quarter-hour as Glik courageously got on the end of Thomas Lemar’s free-kick, the Polish defender clobbered by Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren as he headed in his fourth league goal of the season.
A lightning-quick break delivered Monaco’s second goal on 21 minutes. The visitors won back possession deep in their own half before Benjamin Mendy released Mbappe, who slotted coolly through the legs of Jourdren.
Benin international Steve Mounie dragged just wide as Montpellier sought to work their way back into the contest.
Hilton, 39, then became the oldest player this century to score in France’s top flight when he turned in a corner two minutes into the second half to give Montpellier renewed hope.
Monaco saw Valere Germain forced off with a calf injury while France full-back Djibril Sidibe added to their injury concerns ahead of their Champions League last 16 showdown with Manchester City in a fortnight.
Montpellier ramped up the pressure as Monaco were reduced to 10 men when Jemerson brought down Ryad Boudebouz, but Danijel Subasic turned away a stinging shot from Jerome Roussillon while Souleymane Camara’s last-gasp header clipped the crossbar.