PARIS: Luis Enrique’s Paris St Germain moved 11 points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 standings with a 3-1, come-from-behind home win over Lille on Saturday.
PSG, who were without striker Kylian Mbappe before they host Real Sociedad in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, are on 50 points from 21 games and have extended their unbeaten run to 16 games.
It was only the third time Mbappe, who was forced off injured against Brest in the Coupe de France midweek, has stayed on the bench during an entire Ligue 1 game for PSG -- and the first since April 2018.
“Mbappe is physically very good. It is clear that we did not want to take risks, there was no need, we are not playing in a final, it made no sense. He will be available for Wednesday match,” said Luis Enrique in a news conference.
“This is a collective effort, obviously there are players like Kylian with the individual ability to change the course of a game on his own, but I have highlighted the level of the squad - that’s what makes me proud as a coach.”
“Playing in the Champions League is not like playing for our lives. We will face the competition with calm, without pressure... We are ready and we have proved it,” he added.
Midfielder Yusuf Yazici silenced the Parc des Princes when he gave Lille the lead after six minutes, collecting a loose ball inside the six-yard box to send it past returning PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Navas, 37, who was sent on loan to Premier League side Nottingham Forest for the second half of the 2022-23 season, missed the beginning of the current campaign with back problems.
A Lille defensive error four minutes later gifted PSG an equaliser however, with Ousmane Dembele squaring the ball to Goncalo Ramos who scored with a low, first-time shot from 10 metres.
The home side then went ahead when Lille defender Alexsandro put the ball in his own net in the 17th minute as he attempted to clear a low strike by Fabian Ruiz from outside the box. Midfielder Marco Asensio and defender Nordi Mukiele had chances for the Parisians in the second half before Randal Kolo Muani sealed the points with an 80th-minute tap-in.
Lille, who ended their unbeaten start to 2024 on Wednesday when they were knocked out of the French Cup last 16 by Olympique Lyonnais, remained fourth on 35 points. They host Le Havre on Feb. 17, while PSG travel to 14th-placed Nantes later that day.