Paris Saint-Germain secured a record-equalling tenth Ligue 1 title with an uncomfortable 1-1 draw at home to the ten men of Lens on Saturday evening.
Largely played to the backdrop of an eerie hush – a statement fostered by the prominent PSG fan group Collectif Ultras Paris – the lackluster hosts hardly warranted any fanfare.
On a night when a single point would be enough for PSG to claim the league crown, seventh-placed Lens represented an obdurate opponent. In their attempt to play the role of party-poopers, Lens shuffled into a compact 5-4-1 off the ball. The visitors leapt out of their rearguard when PSG played the ball backwards or made a ham-fisted stab at laboriously passing out from a short goal kick.
PSG were treated to a chorus of boos at the end of a first half in which they had created chances but collectively lacked a crisp touch in the crucial moment, with both Neymar and Achraf Hakimi squandering sights of goal.
Quick thinking from Kylian Mbappe almost broke the deadlock in the second half. The young forward initiated a sharply taken free-kick, sauntering into a vacant penalty area where only goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca was alive to the threat, smothering Mbappe who had his second attempt hastily cleared off the line.
Lens’ centre-back Kevin Danso was lured into his second yellow card of the match before the hour-mark, recklessly sliding into Neymar to leave his side even more steadfastly reserved.
It took until the 68th minute for Lionel Messi to finally break the deadlock. Collecting the ball in front of Lens’ massed ranks, PSG’s summer arrival ripped the ball into the top corner from 25 yards for just his fourth league goal of the campaign.
However, Lens wouldn’t quietly slip into the shadows of PSG’s celebrations. Combining down the left-hand side, the ten men of Lens somehow managed to create an overload at the back post as Corentin Jean converted Deiver Machado’s low ball across the face of goal.
It was enough to put a dampener on these 90 minutes, but at the end of the night, it was PSG celebrating yet another league title.
GK: Keylor Navas – 5/10 – Managed to make a shot straight into his shins appear goal-bound.
CB: Marquinhos – 5/10 – Sporadically rotating with Sergio Ramos through the middle of PSG’s back-three, Marquinhos was also tasked with aggressively stepping forward to snap at the heels of the forward receiving possession.
CB: Sergio Ramos – 4/10 – A wayward switch of play, under no pressure whatsoever, summed up the aimless build-up which plagued PSG’s play.
CB: Presnel Kimpembe – 5/10 – Scuttled wide on the left flank when PSG had possession, shunting Mendes into the frontline.
RWB: Achraf Hakimi – 5/10 – Tasked with patrolling the entire right flank as Messi drifted centrally, Hakimi was much more threatening when he had a teammate to bounce a one-two off.
CM: Idrissa Wins Gueye – 5/10 – Scurrying around the pitch, Gueye’s role revolved around getting his toe to the ball in the immediate seconds following a turnover, which he did with mixed success.
CM: Marco Verratti – 7/10 – A perennial source of open arms calling for the ball, the Italy international robbed possession high up the pitch on a number of occasions.
LWB: Nuno Mendes – 4/10 – Largely uninvolved going forward, Mendes completely switched off for the equaliser.
RW: Lionel Messi – 6/10 – Ambling around the pitch, Messi’s jolt of acceleration may be gone but the unerring accuracy of his left foot is very much intact.
ST: Kylian Mbappe – 5/10 – One of the few players that could spark a swell of sound from a stubborn crowd but missed a number of presentable openings.
LW: Neymar – 5/10 – Horribly miscued the first half’s clearest sight of goal, dragging the ball considerably wide from close range.
SUB: Angel Di Maria (76′ for Hakimi) – 5/10
SUB: Danilo Pereira (81′ for Gueye) – N/A