Neymar injury won't require surgery, per reports


Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain may have narrowly escaped a devastating injury spell.

A report on Thursday from Brazilian journalist Raphael de Angeli, who is based in the French capital, indicated Neymar won’t require surgery after re-injuring the fifth metatarsal in his right foot the day prior in a Coupe de France match against Strasbourg.

The report says the injury did not compromise the screw Neymar had placed in his right foot during surgery last spring. Medical staff will continue to perform exams over the next 10 days to determine which procedure or treatment is best suited going forward.

Might Neymar’s injury not be as serious as initially feared? (Yahoo Magazines)

PSG has built a cozy lead in Ligue 1 and figures to cruise to its sixth title in seven years even with Neymar missing time. The ultimate goal, however, with the hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown around at the club, is summiting the Champions League. And that won’t be easy with a looming Round of 16 clash on Feb. 12 against Manchester United, still unbeaten in seven matches under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose “interim” tag is peeling off more and more by the day.

Neymar seems to be in good spirits, posting a picture of one of his tattoos to his Instagram story with the caption “que seja feita a tua vontade, Deus!” which translates from Portuguese to “thy will be done, God.”


Yahoo Soccer will have more on this story as it develops.

Joey Gulino is the editor of Yahoo Soccer and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

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PSG and Messi face grudge match in Marseille


Lionel Messi gets his first taste of French football's biggest rivalry this weekend as Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain travel to face Marseille on Sunday.

A few hours after Messi's old side Barcelona take on Real Madrid in the Clasico, the Argentinian will take to the field at the Velodrome in the fixture known as "Le Classique".

It is a rivalry that grew in the early 1990s, when Marseille were the dominant force in French football and, for a short while, in Europe.

These days Qatar-owned PSG reign supreme in France, even if they missed out on the Ligue 1 title last season to Lille and their performances in this campaign have not always convinced.

They have won seven of the last eight meetings of the clubs across all competitions and have lost just once to OM in the last decade.

That 1-0 defeat in Paris came in a near-empty stadium at the start of the pandemic-affected last season. This time there will be a full house at the Velodrome as PSG aim to extend their 10-point advantage over Marseille, who are third and do have a game in hand.

Messi scored twice for PSG in their 3-2 win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League in midweek.

All three of his goals so far in a Paris shirt have come in Europe. Indeed he has played more minutes so far in the Champions League than he has in Ligue 1.

Kylian Mbappe, who scored the other goal against Leipzig, has been the main man for Mauricio Pochettino's team this season, while Neymar has struggled for form.

The Brazilian could return from an adductor muscle problem at the ground where he was sent off in October 2017 as the heated atmosphere got to him.

Marseille, who played Lazio in the Europa League on Thursday, have entertained this season under Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli but it remains to be seen if they are capable of competing with a PSG team that have won nine out of 10 league outings.

"It's going to be a special occasion and a difficult match," said PSG midfielder Ander Herrera.

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"They are in good form, and there will be a bit more than just the usual three points at stake."

Player to watch: Matteo Guendouzi

The 22-year-old moved to Marseille on loan from Arsenal in order to breathe life into his career, which had stalled in north London where he had been frozen out by manager Mikel Arteta.

After a spell at Hertha Berlin last season, Guendouzi now looks right at home under Sampaoli at Marseille and is flourishing in a midfield role which allows him to get forward and join the attack.

Guendouzi, who was a non-playing member of the France squad at the recent UEFA Nations League finals, scored one goal and made two more in Marseille's 4-1 win over Lorient last weekend.

Now he comes up against PSG, the club he supported as a boy and with whom he began his career as a youth before leaving for Lorient aged 15.

Key stats

10 - Dimitri Payet has scored 10 goals and provided 10 assists in Ligue 1 in 2021. According to Opta, the only other players in Europe's top five leagues in double figures for goals and assists this year are Karim Benzema (24 and 11) and Memphis Depay (16 and 11).

1 - The number of Marseille wins against PSG in the last 10 years, across the last 23 meetings of the teams in all competitions.

12 - Claude Puel's Saint-Etienne are on a 12-game winless run. If they fail to beat Angers on Friday they will equal their longest ever top-flight run without a victory of 13 games, which dates back to 1988.

Fixtures (kick-offs GMT)


Saint-Etienne v Angers (1900)


Nantes v Clermont (1500), Lille v Brest (1900)


Nice v Lyon (1100), Lens v Metz, Lorient v Bordeaux, Reims v Troyes, Rennes v Strasbourg (all 1300), Monaco v Montpellier (1500), Marseille v Paris Saint-Germain (1845)



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PSG beat Lille with late Di Maria strike


Neymar set up Angel Di Maria to score an 88th-minute winner as Paris Saint-Germain came from behind once again, this time to beat reigning French champions Lille 2-1 on Friday.

With Kylian Mbappe missing and Lionel Messi taken off at half-time, PSG needed captain Marquinhos to equalise in the 74th minute after Jonathan David had given the away side a first-half lead at the Parc des Princes.

Di Maria had set up the equaliser and he then arrived to fire low into the net from Neymar's lay-off and secure a win that allows PSG to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to a massive 10 points over second-placed Lens before the rest of the weekend's games.

Nevertheless this was another in a long line of disjointed displays from Mauricio Pochettino's team and the coach was again left with questions to answer.

It was the third time in four home league games that PSG have come from behind to score a late winning goal, and here it came against a Lille side who are in mid-table after a poor start to their title defence.

The absence of top-scorer Mbappe due to illness did not help, nor did that of injured playmaker Marco Verratti.

"It is not by chance that the team responded the way they did. It shows the mentality and the character that they have," Pochettino insisted.

"We want to win in the best possible manner, and by the biggest margin. The truth is that it's often a struggle but it's not by chance that we have won 10 league games out of 12."

- Messi's goal drought -

Messi was taken off at the interval and is still without a goal after five appearances in Ligue 1. That record is surely not what anyone expected from him when he arrived in August.

Perhaps he eventually will start scoring for fun in France, but he will go into November still looking to break his duck.

To be fair Messi has been making an impact in the Champions League, with three goals in three appearances in Europe.

His premature substitution here was a precautionary measure ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with RB Leipzig in Germany -– the Argentinian had been struggling with a minor injury during the week.

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"We think he will be available for the match against Leipzig," Pochettino told broadcaster Amazon Prime.

Neymar's form has also been a source of concern, and the Brazilian still has just one goal to his name this season, and that from a penalty.

Here the world's most expensive player sometimes cut a frustrated figure and talked his way into a late booking, but that was before he teed up Di Maria for the winner.

Earlier Lille were rewarded for a fine first-half showing with the opening goal just after the half-hour mark.

Burak Yilmaz, who had come close to scoring in the first minute, got to the byline and cut the ball back for Canada striker David to turn it into the net from close range.

Yilmaz was then denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma early in the second half but PSG pushed in search of an equaliser and eventually got it as Di Maria's chipped ball from the byline was turned in by Marquinhos.

Mauro Icardi, who had replaced Messi at the break, missed a great chance to win it for the home side before Di Maria struck.

Second-placed Lens are in action on Saturday away to Lyon.



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Sergino Dest, Ousmane Dembele injured; USMNT man to miss qualifiers


Barcelona’s been bit by an injury bug, one that will cost the United States men’s national team one of its electric wide players.

Sergino Dest and Ousmane Dembele will miss time and international duty, though neither ailment sounds particularly serious.

Dest, who turned 23 on Wednesday, is suffering from lower back pain and will miss the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and Mexico.

[ MORE: Champions League recaps ]

Dembele, 24, had just returned from an injury absence at midweek and strained his hamstring in the Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev. He earned six of his 24 caps for France last season but picked up an injury at EURO 2020.

Dest will open the door for a number of right backs on the USMNT roster, assuming Gregg Berhalter opts for Antonee Robinson or Sam Vines on the left: Reggie Cannon, Joe Scally, and Shaq Moore could all slide into the fullback spot.

The announcement of the USMNT roster for the Jamaica and Mexico matches is expected to be imminent.

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Dolly strikes twice to give Kaizer Chiefs derby win


Keagan Dolly converted a stoppage-time penalty to give Kaizer Chiefs a dramatic 2-1 victory over Orlando Pirates on Saturday in the highlight of the South African Premiership calendar.

The former Montpellier midfielder had earlier broken the deadlock in the Soweto derby with a 49th-minute goal and Linda Mntambo levelled three minutes from the end of regular time.

Dolly, who quit France after the Ligue 1 season ended, is reportedly the highest paid Premiership footballer with a 1.45 million rand ($96,500/83,500 euros) monthly salary.

Traditionally tight spenders, Chiefs will feel the splash for Dolly was justified as the 28-year-old has scored five goals in 10 matches for a team seeking a first league title since 2015.

Success for the Amakhosi (Chiefs), in an empty Soccer City stadium because of Covid-19 restrictions, confirmed their recent league dominance over the Buccaneers with four wins and a draw from six meetings.

Securing maximum points from a match that began in sweltering heat and ended in a downpour lifted Chiefs one place to fifth, seven points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who have played two fewer matches.

Pirates, who won the last of four Premiership titles in 2012, remained seventh, eight points adrift of Sundowns.

"It was a scrambled victory," admitted Chiefs' England-born coach Stuart Baxter, who was rehired this year after winning four trophies during a previous spell at the club.

"I thought the first half was evenly contested, but that we were more comfortable on the ball after half-time.

"The torrential rain disrupted my plans to bring on several substitutes as it takes time for footballers to adapt to a dramatic change in conditions.

"Consistency is a big issue for us -- we can defeat any South African opponents when the team clicks and lose to anyone when we don't."

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Pirates' acting co-coach Fadlu Davids saw the match differently from Baxter, saying his team "dominated from start to finish".

"The scoreline does not tell the true story because the better side lost. I am proud of our performance. We were the only team seeking maximum points during the closing stages."

Second-place Stellenbosch squandered a chance to draw level on points with Sundowns after being held 0-0 at home by mid-table Golden Arrows in the western Cape winelands.

Sundowns can go five points clear at the top on Sunday if they triumph away to bottom club Marumo Gallants in northern city Polokwane.



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Footballer Sala's flight organiser jailed for 18 months


The businessman who organised the 2019 flight that crashed in the Channel, killing Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala, was on Friday jailed for 18 months for flouting safety rules.

David Henderson, 67, was last month convicted by a jury in Cardiff for endangering the safety of an aircraft over the death of the 28-year-old striker.

He will also concurrently serve a three-month sentence for attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

Henderson -- a former Royal Air Force officer -- had already admitted that charge, which typically concerns a business operator failing to acquire the appropriate licences to hire a plane commercially.

The single-engine Piper Malibu plane carrying Sala from France to join Cardiff crashed into the sea near the Channel island of Guernsey on January 21, 2019, killing him and pilot David Ibbotson, 59.

Ibbotson, who regularly flew for Henderson, did not hold a commercial pilot's licence or a qualification to fly at night and his rating to fly the aircraft had expired.

Judge David Foxton said Henderson organised the flight without the correct certificate and necessary safety systems to comply with UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirements.

"The lack of certificate was not a mere piece of paper. Air safety regulations and systems are designed to give effect to them and are written in blood," Foxton said.

"You were aware your aircraft operations were unlawful and took steps to make sure the operation was off the radar.

"This was illustrated by your message to Mr Ibbotson, which read: 'We both have the opportunity to make money out of the business model but not if we upset clients or draw the attention of the CAA'."

- Safety risk -

Sala had signed for the Welsh outfit, who were then in the Premier League, for a club-record £15 million (18 million euros, $20 million) from French Ligue 1 side Nantes.

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He was one of the French league's top scorers before his death, netting 12 goals in 19 games in the 2018/19 season.

His impressive form prompted Cardiff manager Neil Warnock to sign him in the 2019 January transfer window to aid the Bluebirds' ultimately unsuccessful battle against relegation.

A coroner's inquest into Sala's death will be held next year.

"Our thoughts remain with the families and friends affected by this tragic accident," said CAA safety director Rob Bishton.

"Illegal commercial flights represent a significant safety risk and that is reflected in the court's decision today.

"The aviation system relies on the integrity of all those involved. Anyone operating a commercial flight should always have the necessary licence and approvals in place."

A British air accident investigation report published in March last year concluded Ibbotson was not licensed to fly the plane or to fly at night.

It assessed that he lost control and flew too fast as he tried to avoid bad weather, and that both he and Sala were affected by carbon monoxide poisoning before the crash.

Sala's body was recovered from the seabed in February 2019 but that of Ibbotson has never been found.

Defence lawyer Stephen Spence argued against a jail sentence, saying Henderson faced "financial ruin" due to legal fees and would have to rely on his state pension.

The lawyer added that his client previously had a good character and now suffered mental health difficulties.

Henderson said after the case in a statement through his lawyers that he would consider whether to appeal against the conviction and sentence.

"Now that the case is concluded in the Crown Court, Mr Henderson wishes to formally pay his respects to the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson," it added.

"It is important to point out that the Civil Aviation Authority have always accepted that the way in which the flight was arranged and operated did not cause the aircraft to crash."



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Salah has two goals as African World Cup qualifying intensifies


Liverpool marksman Mo Salah leads Egypt against Angola this weekend with the clear objective of ending his scoring drought to help lift his nation into the final stage of Africa World Cup qualifying.

Qualifying for the 2022 tournament in Qatar intensifies on the continent with the last two group rounds, with victory in Luanda moving Egypt into the next stage as Group F winners.

The two-time African Footballer of the Year wants to get back on the goal trail in Angola having failed to find the net in his last three appearances for the Merseysiders.

Before his mini-slump, Salah had scored in 10 consecutive matches in all competitions for Liverpool.

Victory will take Salah and his team into the final qualifying phase to decide which five countries represent Africa in Qatar next year.

Here, AFP Sport highlights matchdays 5 and 6, which run from Thursday through Tuesday, with 21 nations chasing eight final-round places, 17 out of contention and Senegal and Morocco already through.

Group A

Riyad Mahrez-captained African champions Algeria and Burkina Faso are heading for a final round showdown on a Blida pitch publicly criticised by both teams as unsuitable for international football.

While Algeria can pick nine starters from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal, Burkina Faso will lack leading scorer Abdou Traore and Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore due to injuries.

Group B

Victory for Tunisia away to closest challengers Equatorial Guinea will clinch first place with a match to spare, and Wahbi Khazri is a potential match-winner for the Carthage Eagles.

He scored a 68-metre goal recently in the French Ligue 1 and has notched three in four World Cup qualifiers, including the last in a 3-0 home win over the Equatoguineans.

Group C

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Nigeria recovered swiftly from a stunning home defeat by the Central African Republic and will take an unassailable lead if they defeat Liberia in matchday 5 and Cape Verde fail to secure maximum points.

The Super Eagles have recalled former Manchester United forward Odion Ighalo and Premier League midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Alex Iwobi have overcome injuries that sidelined them last month.

Group D

Matchday 5 wins for leaders the Ivory Coast at home to Mozambique and Cameroon away to Malawi will leave one point separating them heading into a final round showdown in Yaounde.

Ivory Coast will miss unavailable Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha while Cameroon have called up Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper Andre Onana, who has completed a lengthy ban for a doping violation.

Group E

Mali appear the strongest of the African challengers who have never qualified for the World Cup and hold a two-point advantage over Uganda in a section where Kenya have fared dismally.

A Malian Eagles squad including Southampton winger Moussa Djenepo will seal top spot with a match to spare if they win in Rwanda and Uganda fail to secure maximum points when they host Kenya.

Group F

Former Real Madrid manager and twice Manchester United assistant Carlos Queiroz has had an immediate impact on Egypt since replacing sacked Hossam el Badry after matchday 2.

Home and away victories over Libya gave the record seven-time African champions a four-point advantage and even if they lose in Angola, a win over Gabon in Alexandria will ensure progress.

Group G

A groin injury could prevent Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey playing for Ghana against Ethiopia, but he is a likely starter in a probable group decider at home to leaders South Africa.

South Africa forward Victor Letsoalo, who has impressed for newcomers Royal AM in the domestic league, misses the home match against Zimbabwe through suspension.

Group H

Only pride is at stake in a group where Senegal boast a perfect four-match record and clinched first place last month by winning away to Namibia through a Famara Diedhiou hat-trick.

Senegal have a powerful 'spine' of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, midfielder Idrissa Gueye and forward Sadio Mane and are expected to qualify for Qatar.

Group I

Morocco have also secured a final-round place, helped by playing away matches against Guinea and Guinea-Bissau at home because of a Conakry coup and a Bissau stadium not up to international standards.

Bottom team Sudan are another country without a suitable venue for World Cup qualifying so they must tackle the Vahid Halilhodzic-coached Moroccans in Rabat.

Group J

The most intriguing section with co-leaders Benin and Tanzania, top seeds the Democratic Republic of Congo and surprise 2019 Cup of Nations quarter-finalists Madagascar all capable of finishing first.

Madagascar may be four points behind the pacesetters, but will snatch top spot if they defeat Benin and Tanzania and DR Congo draw their two fixtures.



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Aminata Diallo of Paris Saint-Germain arrested after attack on teammate


PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Aminata Diallo has been taken into police custody following an attack on other players from the women’s team, the club said Wednesday.

PSG said in a statement that the 26-year-old Diallo was arrested on Wednesday morning by Versailles police following the attack that took place last Thursday evening.

“Paris Saint-Germain condemns in the strongest possible terms the violence committed,” PSG said. “Since Thursday evening the club has taken all necessary measures to guarantee the health, well-being and safety of its entire women’s team.”

PSG added that it will work closely with the Versailles police to clarify the facts.

[ MORE: Five things to watch in USMNT vs Mexico ]

“The club is paying close attention to the progress of the proceedings and will study what action to take,” PSG said.

No other names were given, but several French media reports said that midfielder Kheira Hamraoui was attacked following an evening out with Diallo and another unnamed teammate.

Broadcaster BFM TV reported that Diallo was driving them back when several people wearing masks attacked, and that Hamraoui was hit several times with a metal bar and needed stitches to her hands and legs.

Hamraoui and Diallo are teammates on France’s national team.

Hamraoui re-joined PSG in the offseason from Barcelona and played in the Champions League semifinal as Barca knocked out PSG.

Hamraoui previously played for PSG from 2012-16, the year Diallo joined from Guingamp.

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Marseille held by 10-men Metz in Ligue 1


Marseille were held to a goalless draw by Metz in Ligue 1 on Sunday after failing to make their numerical superiority count following Jemerson's red card.

Despite laying siege to the Metz goal, Marseille had to settle for a single point that left them in fourth place, 11 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Until the sending-off, Thomas Delaine had stretched Marseille but all of Metz's efforts were halted by 36-year-old goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, recalled to the team for the first time for two months.

Jemerson was dismissed for studs-up challenge on Dimitri Payet with half an hour left to play, sparking a frantic finish.

Polish forward Arkadiusz Milik and US international forward Konrad de la Fuente both came close for Marseille without finding the net.

"We struggled," said Marseille assistant coach Jorge Desio who bemoaned the fixture list that had seen them also play a Europa League game on Thursday.

"Beyond the result, playing every three days requires a lot of energy."

Nice stay third, also 11 points off the top, after losing 1-0 at home to Montpellier.

Florent Mollet scored the winner for Montpellier 10 minutes from time leaving Nice to regret not turning their domination into goals.

In the first half alone, they forced five corners to none and had 10 shots compared to the visitors' four.

"We didn't steal victory," said Mollet. "We put in a lot of effort to take the three points. We were worried, but we held on."

Rennes kept up their push for a European place with a 4-1 win over Lyon which kept them fifth but just a point behind Marseille and Nice.

Gaetan Laborde, Hamari Traore and a late double from Adrien Truffert secured the three points as Rennes, coached by former Lyon boss Bruno Genesio, extended their unbeaten home run to seven games.

Story continues

Lyon's frustrations were illustrated by Lucas Paqueta and Houssem Aouar bickering over who should take their injury time penalty.

The Brazilian won the spat and converted the consolation goal.

Neymar scored twice in PSG's 3-2 win against Bordeaux on Saturday and dedicated his goals to Marilia Mendonca, a popular Brazilian singer and Latin Grammy winner who was killed in a plane crash the day before.



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Neymar strikes twice as PSG hold on to beat Bordeaux


Neymar suggested that speculation about his decline was premature with two sharply taken first-half goals on Saturday as Paris Saint-Germain hung on to win 3-2 at Bordeaux in Ligue 1.

The Brazilian had only scored one goal for PSG this season, and that was a penalty in September, but he struck from open play in the 26th and 43rd minutes, both times set up by Kylian Mbappe.

"He played a very good game," said PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino. "He scored two goals. It's important for an offensive player to score."

Mbappe also scored as, in the absence of injured Lionel Messi, the two superstars made the difference in a well-balanced game.

For his first goal, Neymar collected a floated pass on the left of the penalty box, stepped inside and unleashed a shot between two defenders inside the post.

Neymar again cut in for the second, dancing past several defenders before exchanging passes with Mbappe and hitting the return first time, low and again just inside the post.

Speculation had swirled around Neymar's appetite for the game since he said in October that next year's World Cup in Qatar would be his last as he "doesn't have the strength to put up with more football".

Mbappe added a third in the 63rd minute after PSG caught Bordeaux's defence high up the field.

With defenders trailing far behind, Georginio Wijnaldum raced through on goal, drew keeper Benoit Costil and side-footed the ball to Mbappe for a tap in.

The brilliance of the two stars seemed to have settled the match, but Bordeaux hit back.

Alberth Elis gave the home team late hope when he scuffed home a 74th-minute goal after PSG gave the ball away trying to play out of their own penalty area.

Two minutes into added time, M'Baye Niang finished off a pacy attack scooping home his first goal for Bordeaux after a sharp exchange with Jimmy Briand in the box.

But PSG had barely kicked off again when the whistle sounded.

Story continues

"We made two mistakes, the goals came from those two mistakes," said Pochettino.

"We could have killed the game much earlier," he added. "We can't lead 3-0 and let in two goals."

PSG moved 10 points clear of second-place Lens, who thrashed Troyes 4-0 on Friday. Nice, who host Montpellier on Sunday, are another point further back.

Earlier, champions Lille continued to struggle to hold a lead in Ligue 1 as they conceded an 83rd-minute goal and drew 1-1 at home against Angers.

A week after they led away to PSG until the 74th minute only to lose, Lille went ahead when Tiago Djalo struck in the 28th minute, slotting home from a free kick by Renato Sanches.

But they allowed a late equaliser from Azzedine Ounahi who calmly finished from a far-post cross by Sofiane Boufal.

Lille remain in 12th and are 18 points behind PSG.

"It's a strange feeling," said Lille coach Jocelyn Gourvennec. "We dropped two points while we had the feeling we were in control of the game but it was not fluid either."



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