PARIS: Kylian Mbappe broke away to score a last-minute winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Brest 2-1 on Saturday, a result that will go a small way toward healing the wound of their midweek Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich.
PSG have been left with just the Ligue 1 title to play for in the remaining months of the season after the Qatar-owned club were knocked out of Europe’s elite club competition in the last 16 with a 3-0 aggregate defeat.
They took the lead on their trip to Brittany in the 37th minute when Carlos Soler followed in to score after Mbappe’s shot had been parried by Brest goalkeeper Marco Bizot.
Yet the home side, battling to avoid relegation, drew level before halftime through Franck Honorat and it looked like they would hold on for a precious point in their fight to avoid relegation.
But then Mbappe, who had just been booked for kicking Brest midfielder Haris Belkebla in the back of the calf, was sent through on goal by Lionel Messi and rounded Bizot to score.
Despite an unconvincing performance, the result allows PSG to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 11 points over nearest challengers Marseille, who face Strasbourg on Sunday.
“People can say it is a little victory but it is a victory. Not everything was perfect but we had lots of chances and we shouldn’t let the fact we needed a last-minute winner hide that,” PSG coach Christophe Galtier told broadcaster Canal Plus.
“To come here and win three days after our disappointment against Bayern was very important. We are in a fight for the title. The context is obviously not favorable but winning was the main thing.”
PSG, who are chasing what would be a French record 11th league title and a ninth in the Qatar era, were missing a host of players at the Stade Francis-Le Ble, including Neymar.
The Brazilian is recovering after undergoing an operation on damaged ankle ligaments in Doha and is not expected to play again this season.
Spanish international Soler was one of three players brought into the Paris line-up following Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat in the second leg of their tie against Bayern in Germany.
The former Valencia player almost opened the scoring early on, but his powerful shot from a Messi assist was tipped onto the post by Bizot.
Soler did then open the scoring, only for Honorat to control a long ball forward by Romain Del Castillo and hold off Sergio Ramos and Timothee Pembele before firing in the equalizer.
Bizot saved well from Messi in the second half but the Dutch goalkeeper could not prevent Mbappe scoring the winner as the France superstar took his tally for the season to 31 in all competitions for his club.
He is level at the top of the Ligue 1 scorers’ charts on 19 goals with Canada’s Jonathan David, who scored a hat-trick for Lille in their 3-3 draw with Lyon on Friday.
Rennes, who are fifth, drew 0-0 at Auxerre in Saturday’s other game.