Georginio Wijnaldum’s late header cancelled out Seko Fofana’s earlier strike to rescue a 1-1 draw for Paris Saint-Germain at RC Lens on Saturday night.
The hosts were evidently unintimidated by their star-studded opposition, although it was the visiting side that came closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening 20 minutes.
Despite failing to build much coherence in the opening stages, PSG did manage to work the ball to Lionel Messi upfield, only for the Argentinian to send the ball crashing against the upright from range.
Both teams threatened the breakthrough throughout the first half, and PSG very nearly found it seconds before the interval. Achraf Hakimi’s dangerous cross across the six-yard box was met at the back post by the onrushing Angel Di Maria, before the Argentinian somehow saw his effort saved brilliantly by the flying Jean-Louis Leca.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men continued to struggle to cope with the energy of their hosts after the break, and eventually deservedly fell behind just after the hour mark – although in controversial fashion.
With Messi down on the turf in pain, Lens refused to stop play and surged forward with Fofana in possession. The midfielder released an effort from range which Keylor Navas flapped at and somehow failed to keep out.
The hosts went close to doubling their lead just a few minutes later, striking the post through David Da Costa, before Kylian Mbappe forced Leca into a sharp save with his first touch after his introduction to the game.
The visitors continued to push for an all-important equaliser and managed to find one as the clock struck 90, courtesy of Wijnaldum’s brilliant header from Mbappe’s cross.
The 1-1 draw takes PSG’s lead at the Ligue 1 summit to 13 points, while an unlucky Lens side remains fifth in the table, one point outside of the top three.
Here’s how the Parisians rated from an underwhelming night.
Keylor Navas (GK) – 3/10 – Forced into a few decent stops in the first half but really won’t want to see Lens’ opener again – terrible goalkeeping.
Achraf Hakimi (RB) – 7/10 – Defensively sound and was characteristically dangerous when venturing forward, managing three key passes – how Di Maria didn’t convert his first-half cross, we’ll never know.
Marquinhos (CB) – 7/10 – Read the game so well to cut out most of the danger that came his way, consistently standing firm and eventually making seven interventions.
Presnel Kimpembe (CB) – 6/10 – Showed a really good understanding of his partner’s whereabouts and was always quick on the cover to register four interceptions.
Juan Bernat (LB) – 6/10 – Contained the in-form Jonathan Clauss to decent effect but couldn’t make his presence felt at the other end of the pitch.
Angel Di Maria (RM) – 5/10 – Largely disciplined to drop deep and fulfil his defensive duties, although still managed to maintain some fluidity in advanced areas. Wasted a couple of opportunities that PSG were made to rue, however.
Danilo (CM) – 5/10 – Anchored the side to decent effect fr the most part, although was sometimes overrun by the intensity of his opposition and didn’t fare too well when attempting to spread the ball past the Lens press.
Leandro Paredes (CM) – 6/10 – Typically warrior-like at the heart of the side, putting himself about to break up play and throwing himself at everything he could, eventually registering seven defensive interventions.
Marco Verratti (LM) – 6/10 – Played an industrious wide role to stifle the effect of Lens’ wing-backs when out of possession and tucked inside when his side had the ball. Although he showed glimpses of his stunning creativity, you can’t help but feel he’d have been more effective right at the heart of PSG’s progressive play.
Lionel Messi (ST) – 7/10 – Completely free-roaming, Messi was elusive and creative throughout. Unlucky to see an effort hit the post early on and generally wasn’t aided by the lack of imagination of his colleagues.
Mauro Icardi (ST) – 4/10 – Worked hard enough but simply failed to inject the intensity required to break down a resilient Lens back line.
Kylian Mbappe (ST) – 7/10 – Forced Leca into a top save with his first touch and looked his side’s main threat throughout his time on the pitch. Came up with the goods with a brilliant cross to tee up the equalise.
Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 7/10 – Headed in the late equaliser.
Idrissa Gueye (CM) – 6/10
Nuno Mendes (LB) – N/A