Messi leads PSG to record 10th French league title

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PSG’s Lionel Messi, right, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the French Ligue 1 soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Lens at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo /Michel Euler)

PA

Half-time boos were replaced by full-time loud cheers as Paris Saint-Germain clinched a record 10th French league title after drawing with Lens 1-1 on Saturday.

Lionel Messi, in his first season with PSG, controlled a pass from Neymar before heading home from the edge of the box in the 68th minute to appease frustrated PSG supporters.

Lensois substitute Corentin Jean equalized with a slip in the 88th minute, but the draw was still enough for PSG to claim an eighth Ligue 1 title since 2013.

The team had an unassailable 16-point lead over second-placed Marseille with four games remaining.

PSG equaled the record of 10 league titles set by Saint-Etienne in 1981. Last year, PSG were knocked off the post by Lille.

“We didn’t win (the championship) last season, it hurt us a lot,” said PSG captain Marquinhos. “So we have to enjoy this title as much as we can.”

Messi came to PSG in the off-season when Barcelona couldn’t afford to keep him. He won a club-record 35 trophies at Barcelona, ​​including 10 La Liga titles.

PSG were booed at the break by their supporters after a lackluster performance in the first half.

Moroccan full-back Achraf Hakimi took advantage of a quick break to score clear in the 26th minute but was denied by Lens goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca. Then Kylian Mbappe missed the target in the 32nd after Neymar played him.

Marco Verratti took the Lensoise defense by surprise by quickly unleashing a free kick in the 53rd to find Mbappé, whose chip was saved by Leca. Mbappe pounced on the rebound only for his angled shot to be cleared off the line by Christopher Wooh.

“It’s my eighth league title, it’s something I never imagined when I was little,” Verratti said. “It will always remain in my heart.”

Lens were down to 10 men in the 57th minute when centre-back Kevin Danso received a second yellow card for an awkward challenge on Neymar.

Shortly after, Messi finally broke Lens’ defence.

Meanwhile, Monaco were finishing strong in the race for the Champions League places after extending their winning streak to six games by beating Saint-Etienne 4-1 to move into third place.

The game was suspended twice after fans shot off fireworks from the stands. The first suspension in the first half lasted only a few minutes, but the second suspension in the second half lasted 35 minutes because league officials sat down to make a decision. The stadium announcer warned the crowd that a third incident would lead to the game being abandoned.

French international Wissam Ben Yedder scored his 20th league goal for Monaco.

Monaco trailed second-placed Marseille by three points.

Saint-Etienne remained in the relegation zone, one point from safety.

Moreover, Lyon moved within four points of a place in the Europa League playoffs by beating Montpellier 5-2 in the mid-table.

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