Paris Saint-Germain have clinched the Ligue 1 title with four games to spare after a 1-1 draw with Lens at the Parc des Princes.
It was a first league title for Mauricio Pochettino, after last season’s second place finish behind Lille. However, with pressure mounting on the Argentine and coming to a head when PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid, it remains to be seen whether the trophy is enough to keep him in the French capital next season.
After a goalless first half, the game turned on a red card for Lens defender Kevin Danso. Still, it took a stunning strike from Lionel Messi to finally break the deadlock midway through the second half. Corentin Jean equalised for the 10 men, but it still wasn’t enough to deny PSG the title.
Pochettino took over midway through the 2020-21 season with PSG second in Ligue 1 and finished the campaign in the same position. However, this season has been far more comfortable, with the club racing clear of their closest challengers early on and sitting atop the table since matchday three.
That hasn’t helped the manager’s popularity, though. As reported by Get French Football News, Pochettino was booed by sections of the home crowd when his name was read out ahead of kick-off.
The former Tottenham Hotspur manager was linked with the Manchester United job, only to miss out when Erik ten Hag got the nod. He was quizzed about the matter on Friday, but avoided being drawn on the subject.
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“All the rumours throughout my football career have never really affected me,” Pochettino said before the Lens game. “I don’t comment on rumours either.
“When I have been in charge of Southampton, Tottenham and now PSG, I have always been fully committed. Rumours are rumours, we don’t need to pay attention to them now.
“We know they exist and they are generated on a daily basis. As always, we are focussed on our job at the club.”
A number of PSG’s high-profile signings from last summer were involved, with Sergio Ramos making a rare start in an injury-plagued season and joining Messi, Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi in the starting XI. Gianluigi Donnarumma and Gini Wijnaldum watched on from the bench, though, with Keylor Navas preferred to Donnarumma in goal.
Navas made a number of saves to keep Lens at bay, ensuring the visitors weren’t able to deny PSG the chance to win the title on home soil. The home side didn’t create too many big chances of their own in the first period, though, with Kylian Mbappe looking the most dangerous of the star-studded attack.
PSG gained an advantage shortly before the hour mark, though, when Danso was sent off for the visitors. The Austrian defender had already been booked in the first half and was handed a second yellow after a challenge with Neymar.
The hosts began to turn the screw with the extra man. However, it still took a moment of magic from Messi to finally get the better of Lens goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca and break the deadlock. The visitors equalised late on, but with PSG only needing a point to seal the title the leveller didn’t stop their celebrations.
While the destination of the title is confirmed, there’s still a fight on for the other Champions League places. Second-place Marseille and fourth-place Rennes are both in action on Sunday, as are Strasbourg in fifth, while Monaco moved into third spot with a 4-1 victory at Saint-Etienne on Saturday.