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Lens gets back in race for Champions League spots by beating Strasbourg

David Pereira da Costa David Pereira da Costa - Getty Images

PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain has its mind set on the Champions League but still managed to extend its lead to 11 points in the French league by rallying past Lille 3-1 with a makeshift team on Saturday.

Lille quickly took the lead with a close-range shot from Yusuf Yazici but PSG struck back with a tap-in from Goncalo Ramos and an own-goal from Alexsandro before Randal Kolo Muani rounded off the scoring in the second half.

Meanwhile, Lens won a third straight game to get back in the race for Champions League spots by beating Strasbourg 3-1 and move level on points with fourth-place Lille.

PSG players Kylian Mbappe, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Marquinhos, Achraf Hakimi, Warren Zaire-Emery, Vitinha and Bradley Barcola started on the bench as coach Luis Enrique made seven changes to the side that beat Brest 3-1 in the last 16 of the French Cup on Wednesday.

Lille right back Tiago Santos toyed with Lucas Beraldo along the touchline in the sixth minute before making a cross that Fabian Ruiz cleared into the path of Yazici, who controlled the ball to fire home.

PSG equalized by pressing high up the pitch in the 10th. Ousmane Dembele robbed Alexsandro to tee up Ramos, who slotted into an empty net.

Alexsandro proved the weak link in the Lille defense as he botched his clearance in the 17th, scuffing a cross from Ruiz into his own net.

Barcola came off the bench to beat Ismaily on the left wing and feed Kolo Muani for the final goal in the 80th.

PSG stretched its unbeaten run to 16 games before hosting Real Sociedad in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

“I think the league game against Lille was similar to the French Cup game against Brest,” Luis Enrique told a news conference. “Both are similar to Real Sociedad, so they are ideal opponents for the next game in the Champions League.”

Luis Enrique didn’t take any risk with Mbappe, who didn’t play after picking up a left ankle injury against Brest.

“Kylian Mbappe is physically doing very well,” Luis Enrique said. “Of course, we didn’t want to take any risks because we didn’t need to. If this had been a final, he certainly would have played.”

In Lens, Portuguese midfielder David Pereira da Costa scored his third goal in as many games and made an assist to help the hosts play catchup after a sluggish start in this campaign. Lens finished runner-up last season.

Pereira da Costa played a one-two with Florian Sotoca in the 16th minute before cutting the ball back for Elye Wahi, who opened the scoring with a tap-in. That was just the third league goal this season for Wahi, the club’s record signing, who has struggled to adapt since leaving Montpellier last summer.

Wahi returned the favor in the 30th by setting up Pereira da Costa, who doubled the lead with a first-time effort.

Strasbourg left back Thomas Delaine capitalized on a goalmouth scramble to pull one back in the 43rd.

Sotoca restored Lens’ two-goal lead with an acrobatic flick in the 58th after Abakar Sylla missed his clearance.

“We were really in trouble after the first five rounds with four losses from five games. Since then, we’ve picked up a good pace with a bit more than two points per game,” Sotoca told Amazon Prime Video. “That reflects our state of mind. We didn’t give up, we stuck together.”

Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba preserved the win by saving a header from Emanuel Emegha in the 60th and a long-range strike from Dilane Bakwa in the 63rd. Strasbourg winger Marvin Senaya also hit the post in the 70th.

Midtable Strasbourg still hasn’t won a league game since the winter break.

Lens stayed in sixth place but moved five points clear of Marseille, which drew with Metz 1-1 on Friday.


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