PSG squander chance to clinch Ligue 1 title with Le Havre draw

Paris Saint-Germain squandered the chance to secure another Ligue 1 title on Saturday after playing out a 3-3 draw at home to struggling Le Havre in their last game before facing Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semi-finals.

PSG would have been officially confirmed as champions for a French record-extending 12th time, and a 10th in 12 seasons, with a win against a side who began the day in the relegation play-off place.

However, in the end they needed a 95th-minute goal by Goncalo Ramos just to salvage a draw after finding themselves 3-1 down in the second half — although there is effectively no chance of them being caught at the top of the table now.

Bradley Barcola had equalised for PSG in the first half, cancelling out Christopher Operi’s opener, but Ghana star Andre Ayew quickly restored Le Havre’s lead and Abdoulaye Toure then converted a penalty just after the hour mark for the visitors.

It looked like PSG were heading for just their second Ligue 1 loss of the entire campaign, but Achraf Hakimi pulled a goal back before substitute Ramos headed in to stretch their unbeaten run in the league to 26 games since September.

Luis Enrique’s team, who are on course for a possible treble, are 12 points clear at the top of the table from Monaco, who have just four games — and 12 points — left to play for.

Paris could therefore still be crowned champions on Sunday, if Monaco fail to win their game away at Lyon.

In any case, their goal difference is currently 29 better than that of Monaco, meaning that even if the sides finished level on points PSG would surely still come out on top.

“Tonight we have won the league without any doubt. We will be champions, given the goal difference advantage,” Luis Enrique said, before looking ahead to the tie against Dortmund.

“I think we are in the best form we have been in all season. I am convinced that we will put up a good fight and the objective is to be in the final.”

– Mbappe rested –

PSG go to Germany for the first leg of their tie against Dortmund on Wednesday and Luis Enrique has been rotating his squad recently with Europe in mind.

Here he made 10 changes to the team that started the 4-1 win away at Lorient in midweek, with only Ousmane Dembele keeping his place in the line-up and Kylian Mbappe among those rested.

Le Havre, who had won just one of their last 12 Ligue 1 games, stunned the home crowd on a rain-sodden evening by going ahead in the 19th minute.

It was a superb team goal, coming from a move that began with Ayew producing an audacious back-heel pass near the right touchline and ending with Operi drilling a first-time shot from the left low into the far corner.

The home side restored parity just before the half-hour mark as Barcola arrived at the back post to sweep in a low ball across the face of goal from Warren Zaire-Emery.

Teenage France midfielder Zaire-Emery was presented to the crowd before kick-off after PSG announced he had agreed a new contract until 2029.

Le Havre went back in front seven minutes before the interval as Loic Nego teed up Ayew, the former Marseille player controlling before rifling a shot low past Keylor Navas and into the net.

Mbappe came on in one of three half-time changes for PSG, but Le Havre extended their lead when Toure converted a spot-kick awarded for a foul by Danilo Pereira on Nego that was detected after a VAR review.

Portugal forward Ramos then replaced Randal Kolo Muani and produced a fine assist for Hakimi to reduce the deficit on 78 minutes.

Ramos was then denied by a superb save from goalkeeper Arthur Desmas, but the striker headed in the equaliser deep into stoppage time from Lee Kang-in’s cross.

That was a punch in the gut for Le Havre, although the draw does still lift them out of the bottom three, at least until Sunday’s matches.

“We have to be annoyed because we didn’t come here as tourists. I think the players are really kicking themselves,” said their coach, Luka Elsner.

AFP

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