PARIS, Jan 30, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - On-loan Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun ran
through to score a remarkable 96th-minute equaliser as Reims held 10-man
Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
It looked like Neymar's strike early in the second half would be enough for
PSG to take all three points despite substitute Marco Verratti being sent off
shortly after that goal.
But an impressive Reims side got the draw they richly deserved when Balogun
broke away to fire home right at the death.
The result sees the club coached by 30-year-old Belgian-born Englishman Will
Still extend their unbeaten run to 14 games between league and cup.
They remain in mid-table but have now drawn with the Parisians twice this
season, their collective strength allowing a team of hungry young players to
hold their own against PSG's superstars.
PSG have now dropped points in three of their four league games in 2023, and
while they remain three points clear of Lens at the top of the table, their
form is a concern with the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie
against Bayern Munich now little over two weeks away.
"Overall we obviously can't be satisfied with our performance. It is not a
question of being worried but we need to get back to winning ways quickly and
play much more as a team than we are at the moment," coach Christophe Galtier
told broadcaster Amazon Prime.
"To concede a goal after 95 minutes with the number of experienced players we
have -- it is damaging for us in terms of the points dropped but it is also
Galtier fielded Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar all together in his
starting line-up for the first time since the World Cup as PSG took to the
field wearing their fourth kit with players' names in Mandarin to mark the
Lunar New Year.
In fact PSG lined up in a 4-2-4 formation at the start with Carlos Soler
joining the superstar attacking trio and playing on the right wing.
- Neymar scores, Verratti sent off -
Yet they sorely missed Verratti in midfield with the Italian left on the
bench in the first half as Reims looked the more dangerous side.
He came on at the break and they took the lead in the 51st minute as a Messi
shot came off Achraf Hakimi and fell to Neymar, who duly converted his 17th
goal of the season.
However, PSG were reduced to 10 men shortly after amid much confusion.
Reims were initially awarded a penalty for a foul by Marquinhos on Balogun in
the box, but a VAR intervention led to the referee sending-off Verratti for a
dangerous tackle on Junya Ito in the build-up and then cancelling the penalty
for an offside.
PSG then saw Sergio Ramos head off the bar before Hakimi had a goal
disallowed for offside.
It looked like they would hold on for the victory but, with the allotted five
added minutes having been played, Kamory Doumbia sent Balogun away and the
England Under-21 striker rounded Gianluigi Donnarumma and finished
emphatically for his 11th Ligue 1 goal this season.
"We played like a team, a team that was ready, proud and who were not afraid
to play here," said Still, who has not lost a game since being promoted to
the role of head coach following the departure of Oscar Garcia in October.
"We had no complexes. I think the goal we conceded was a bit annoying but
that is part of the game and we held on in there, maintained hope and were
rewarded at the end."