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  23 Sep 2021, 09:27

Hakimi heroics maintain Messi-less PSG's 100% start

   PARIS, Sept 23, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Achraf Hakimi's dramatic injury-time
winner rescued Paris Saint-Germain a 2-1 victory at bottom club Metz on
Wednesday as the capital giants maintained their 100 percent start to the
Ligue 1 season despite the absence of the injured Lionel Messi.

   Moroccan full-back Hakimi, a 60-million-euro signing from Inter Milan this
year, gave PSG a fifth-minute lead before Kiki Kouyate's equaliser.

   But a chaotic climax to the match saw Metz reduced to 10 men and have
their coach Frederic Antonetti sent to the stands before Hakimi's 94th-minute
strike.

   "The team fight to the end and never admit defeat, they have this ability
to surpass themselves, with character, and the reward came at the end," said
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino.

   PSG went into the new season as red-hot favourites to regain their French
title after a raft of close-season signings, including six-time Ballon d'Or
winner Messi.

   The former Barcelona icon was absent with a knee injury and Pochettino's
men struggled against winless Metz.

   But PSG extended their early advantage at the top of the table to seven
points over rivals Marseille -- who drew 0-0 at third-placed Angers -- after
a seventh victory from as many league games.

   Hakimi pounced early on but PSG were far from their best and Kouyate
headed home from a corner six minutes before the break.

   Visiting goalkeeper Keylor Navas had to make a good save to deny Lamine
Gueye a goal on the stroke of half-time, while Metz appeals for a penalty for
handball against Hakimi early in the second period were turned down.

   The real drama came after the clock had ticked past the 90 minutes,
though, as Metz defender Dylan Bronn was shown a second yellow card for
kicking the ball away.

   Coach Antonetti was then promptly dismissed.

   PSG made the most of their brief man advantage as Hakimi latched onto
Neymar's excellent pass, cut inside and fired into the bottom corner left-
footed.

   Paris, champions in seven of the last nine seasons, celebrated wildly,
with Neymar booked in the aftermath.

   - Shaqiri off the mark -

   Xherdan Shaqiri scored his first Lyon goal since joining from Liverpool as
his new side saw off Troyes 3-1.

   Xavier Chavalerin gave Troyes a half-time lead, but Shaqiri's brilliant
shot into the top corner dragged Lyon level.

   His fellow close-season arrival Emerson Palmieri completed the turnaround
before Lucas Paqueta added a third.

   After a poor start to the campaign, Lyon have won three of their last four
matches to climb to sixth in the table.

   Nice are a place below them after Amine Gouiri missed a penalty for the
second straight match in a 1-0 loss at Lorient.

   It was the first Ligue 1 defeat of the season for the club financed by
British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos.

   Thomas Monconduit scored the only goal midway through the first half for
Lorient before Gouiri, who also failed from the spot late on in Sunday's 2-2
draw with Monaco, missed again in the 55th minute.

   - Lille get second win -

   Struggling Ligue 1 champions Lille held on to beat Reims 2-1 to claim just
their second win of the season.

   Canada forward Jonathan David put the hosts ahead at the Stade Pierre-
Mauroy just after the half-hour mark and midfielder Benjamin Andre doubled
the advantage before the break with his first goal of the campaign.

   Lille, who saw title-winning coach Christophe Galtier leave in the close
season for Nice, came through a nervy final 15 minutes after Alexis Flips'
penalty cut the deficit for Reims.

   Monaco is above Lille on goal difference after also sealing their second
league win this term by seeing off 10-man Saint-Etienne 3-1.

   In a Ligue 1 first, Monaco made six substitutes due to the new concussion
protocols as Krepin Diatta had to be replaced after a clash of heads with
Yvan Neyou.

   Elsewhere, Rennes bounced back from three straight losses by thrashing
Clermont 6-0, while Nigerian Samuel Kalu rescued Bordeaux a 3-3 draw at
Montpellier.

 

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