PSG fights to go six clear in France

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Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar (right) vies with Dijon’s French defender Valentin Rosier during the French L1 football match between Dijon (DFCO) and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Gaston Gerard Stadium in Dijon, central France. AFP PHOTO

PARIS: A Thomas Meunier brace gave Paris Saint-Germain a hard-fought 2-1 win at Dijon in Ligue 1 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) after the hosts thought they’d earned a late draw through Benjamin Jeannot’s stunning volley.

The result gives PSG, whose chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi is under investigation in his capacity as beIN Media chief over the sale of World Cup broadcasting rights, a six-point lead over second-placed Monaco who lost 3-2 at Lyon on Friday.

“We are very focused on the league and the Champions League,” said PSG coach Unai Emery.

“The president (Khelaifi) speaks constantly with Antero (Henrique, sporting director). I am kept informed at all times, and he told me that he would be with us for Wednesday’s game (at Anderlecht).”

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Match-winner Meunier insisted he was “1,000 percent” sure the dressing room wasn’t affected by the Khelaifi accusations.

“It has nothing to do with the players of PSG, it doesn’t concern us,” he said.

In a packed and raucous stadium, Dijon made a real fight of it as a PSG side deprived of Edinson Cavani, Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva and Layvin Kurzawa were given a rough time by the hosts.

Emery said after the game that Cavani had been struggling with a foot problem that he suffered before playing for Uruguay in their final World Cup qualifiers.

Angel Di Maria, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could have scored a hatful and PSG hit the woodwork twice before their go-ahead goal on 70 minutes.

Belgian right-back Meunier held his nerve to slot the opening goal past prone Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet, who had just parried a shot in what was an excellent performance.

His teammate Jeannot’s goal will be a contender for goal of the season, running at full tilt he fired a left-footed volley with such force in the 87th minute it left PSG keeper Alphonse Areola rooted to the spot.

‘Small dose of destiny’
The rapture was short-lived however as Meunier again calmly slotted home as Mbappe put the ball on a platter for him deep into injury time.

“It was a small dose of destiny,” Meunier said.

Meunier has now scored three league goals in his last two appearances, further strengthening his case for inclusion in Wednesday’s Champions League tie at Anderlecht.

“We knew it would be tough but we were not expecting to have to fight like that,” France midfielder Adrien Rabiot told French television after the game.

“For them it was their game of the season and their mentality and team spirit made us use up a great deal of energy.”

Swiss prosecutors revealed this week they are probing PSG chairman Khelaifi, who heads the Qatari-owned beIN Media group, and disgraced former FIFA executive Jerome Valcke over the sale of media rights for World Cups from 2018-2030.

FIFA said Friday it was also investigating Khelaifi over the media rights issue.

AFP

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