Messi and Neymar absence 'no excuse' as PSG suffer first defeat since March

Lois Openda scored one and set up another as Lens, who have only lost once in Ligue 1 this season, closed the gap on PSG at the top to four points

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A Paris Saint-Germain missing World Cup winner Lionel Messi and Brazil striker Neymar suffered their first defeat since March last year when they fell 3-1 at Lens on Sunday.

PSG's last loss was more than nine months ago – a 3-0 defeat at Monaco in Ligue 1 – and coach Christophe Galtier conceded after the match: "Lens deserved their win."

"Leo and 'Ney' were not there but that is no excuse," he added.

Lois Openda scored one and set up another as Lens, who have only lost once in Ligue 1 this season, closed the gap on PSG at the top to four points after 17 games.

"We are happy to be four points behind," said Lens coach Franck Haise. "This victory proves that we can beat anyone in this championship."

On Sunday at Lens, PSG were without Messi and suspended Brazilian Neymar, but Kylian Mbappe, the Golden Boot winner in Qatar, received a rousing welcome from the Lens fans as he warmed up.

Galtier said he hoped French fans would give Messi – whose Argentina beat France on penalties in last month's World Cup final – a similar reception.

"He's going to join us on January 3, in 48 hours," said Galtier. "I hope Leo will be well received. He won the most beautiful trophy by being very good. We know he's a great and decisive player so we hope he'll be well received obviously."

Lens took the lead after five minutes when PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma blocked an effort from Massadio Haidara to Przemyslaw Frankowski who scored.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe races after the ball. AP Photo

Hugo Ekitike replied three minutes later, swinging hard as Brice Samba dived to gather a cross and driving the ball through the Lens goalkeeper's grasp.

Lens took control after 28 minutes. Seko Fofana won possession on the edge of his own box, drove through a couple of challenges then measured a pass between the PSG central defenders to Openda. The Belgium sprinted clear, and squeezed a shot under Donnarumma.

Lens pressed from the start of the second half and in the 48th minute won possession deep in the PSG half.

The ball reached Openda in the box, his backheel left the defence flat-footed and allowed Alexis Claude Maurice to take a touch and score from close range.

Monaco's Russian midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, centre, celebrates after scoring against Brest. AFP

In Monaco, Aleksandr Golovin smashed in the only goal from outside the penalty area as the home team did just enough to beat Brest 1-0 and tighten their grip on fourth place.

Angers remain anchored to the bottom after suffering a ninth straight loss, falling 2-1 to visiting Lorient who broke their own run of six games without a victory.

The home team's Moroccan World Cup stars Sofiane Boufal and Azzedine Ounahi, who have just returned from vacation and reportedly been promised lucrative transfers, were honoured before the match but did not appear.

"I was happy to see Sofiane and Azzedine," said Angers coach Abdel Bouhazama. "For the moment they are here. For the rest, I leave that to the club directors. I take care of what happens on the pitch."

Updated: January 02, 2023, 6:14 AM