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Ligue 1 late roundup: Messi returns with goal in PSG victory, Nice thrash Montpellier

Lionel Messi bagged a second half goal for PSG
Lionel Messi bagged a second half goal for PSGAFP
Lionel Messi returned to league action for the first time since the World Cup with a goal as Paris Saint-Germain beat Angers 2-0 at the Parc des Princes. Elsewhere in Ligue 1's other four late games, Nice battered Montpellier 6-1 whilst there were also a win for Marseille as Monaco scored late to snatch a draw against Lorient.

Lorient 2 Monaco 2

Wissam Ben Yedder’s late header rescued a 2-2 draw and point for Monaco against Lorient in Ligue 1, rounding off an action-packed second half after just one goal in the previous three meetings, and ensuring that Monaco avoided just their second defeat in 14 away league games.

While these two teams entered the match just two points apart, Monaco were in almost complete control in the early stages.

Mohamed Camara came agonisingly close to capping off Les Monégasques’ dominant opening quarter-hour with his first goal for the club, smashing a shot from range that crashed off the crossbar.

But the visitors were offered a reminder of the threat they faced in Terem Moffi, who raced behind Guillermo Maripan soon after, although the Lorient frontman was denied by a strong stop from Alexander Nübel.

Although they began to find some confidence, Lorient were lucky to avoid punishment when Vito Mannone brought down Breel Embolo inside the area while trying to reach Gedeon Kalulu’s underhit backpass, with Vanderson caught offside by the finest of margins in the buildup.

Les Merlus then had an inviting opening to break forward shortly before the break, but Enzo Le Fee was uncharacteristically wasteful, meaning Monaco maintained their record as the only Ligue 1 side not to have found themselves behind at half-time in an away league match this term.

The game was brought to life during a frantic 16-minute period in the second half.

Embolo gave Monaco the lead when he held off Ligue 1 debutant Abdoul Bamo Meite, and emphatically fired the ball into the bottom corner.

Shortly after Axel Disasi had struck the crossbar with a header, Ouattara finally got the better of Nübel with an unstoppable header that gave the goalkeeper no chance.

And just two minutes later, he would turn provider for his faithful attacking partner Moffi, slipping the ball through for the sought-after striker, who clinically finished to seemingly seal all three points.

Monaco were not giving up so easily though, and Ben Yedder headed home Ismail Jakob’s cross in the 93rd minute to extend Lorient’s winless run at the Stade du Moustoir to five games, and deny them a top-five berth going into the next round.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Dango Ouattara (Lorient)

Nice 6 Montpellier 1

Nice extended their unbeaten run at home in Ligue 1 to five, following an emphatic 6-1 win over Montpellier at the Allianz Riviera.

Hoping to get off to a winning start in his first match as Les Aiglons' caretaker manager following the dismissal of Lucien Favre, Didier Digard’s newly-inherited side should have been ahead after only five minutes.

Hoping to improve on his four league goals, Nicolas Pepe thought for a second he had added another to his current tally, only for Jonas Omlin to deny the Ivorian international with a magnificent one-handed save.

However, the Montpellier goalkeeper was beaten ten minutes later after deciding not to use both hands to repel Pepe’s fearsome strike, which allowed the on-loan Arsenal winger to net his fifth goal of the season.

On the back of scoring a Ligue 1-high seven away goals in the opening quarter-hour this season, Montpellier were found helpless in preventing Nice from showcasing an unparalleled level of dominance in front of goal throughout the opening stages of the contest.

Nonetheless, Les Aiglons reaped their rewards in the 35th minute when Khephren Thuram culminated an exquisite passing exchange with Dante with an unstoppable strike past Omlin to double his side’s advantage.

On course for their first Ligue 1 victory since November, Nice made sure of all three points in the 56th minute when Pepe sublimely slotted in his second of the game to the frustration of Omlin.

With the contest all but over, tempers began to flare at the Allianz Riviera shortly after the hour-mark, as visiting Wahbi Khazri and man of the moment Pepe experienced a difference of opinions.

Nice then added the finishing touches to their one-sided victory as substitute Bilal Brahimi mistimed his initial effort but then clinically fired the second into the right-hand corner.

Despite Teji Savanier firing in a sensational free-kick 10 minutes from full time, Ross Barkley restored Nice’s four-goal advantage two minutes later with a fierce strike.

Not content with his name only being on the scoresheet once, Barkley then grabbed his second of the night from close-range to fire Nice to within 10 points of the intensely-competitive European qualification positions.

In contrast, Montpellier remain without consecutive away league victories in the current campaign.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Nicolas Pepe (Nice)

PSG 2 Angers 0

Paris Saint-Germain moved six points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table with a 2-0 over Angers, who remain without a victory against the team from the French capital since 1972.

Boosted by the return of FIFA World Cup winner Lionel Messi against a side in the middle of an eight-game losing streak in the French top flight - an unwanted club record - there was little danger of PSG losing a second league game in a row.

After the Parc des Princes crowd paid their respects to the late, great Pele, any fears of an Angers victory were all but removed within five minutes of kick-off, as Hugo Ekitike swept Nordi Mukiele’s cross beyond Paul Bernardoni and into the corner.

Sergio Ramos almost doubled his side’s advantage, but was thwarted by a brilliant save from the Angers’ shot-stopper.

Despite the gulf in class between the two teams, individually and collectively, the Parisians were unable to move out of sight, while their opponents seemed to have plenty of space when they did have possession.

The hosts continued to push for a second after the interval, but now Les Noirs et Blancs began to look more dangerous. After Bernardoni denied Ekitike with a brilliant save down to his right,

Abdallah Sima had Angers’ best chance to equalise, but could only blaze over the bar despite having time and space inside the penalty area.

That miss proved to be costly, as shortly after the 70-minute mark, Messi, stroked home another Mukiele pass to effectively seal the win, although a VAR intervention was needed to confirm the Argentinian was not in an offside position.

RC Lens, who inflicted PSG’s first defeat of the season on New Year’s Day, could only manage a 2-2 draw away to Strasbourg, allowing Christophe Galtier’s side to extend their advantage at the top of the table.

Angers, meanwhile, still have just eight points this campaign, and look destined to drop to the second tier.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Nordi Mukiele (Paris Saint-Germain)

Strasbourg 2 Lens 2

Strasbourg sealed a valuable point in their battle against relegation against high flying Lens as the two sides drew 2-2 at the Stade de la Meinau Strasbourg. 

Lens were flying high after their last Ligue 1 game which saw them defeat league leaders PSG 3-1 and it didn’t take long for Les Sang et Or to take the lead as Facundo Medina played through Alexis Claude-Maurice who calmly slotted the ball beyond Matz Sels.

The away side's lead didn’t last long though, as just two minutes later a Strasbourg corner fell to Sanjin Prcic who drilled a low effort into the bottom corner to bring the score level.

Strasbourg were yet to win a game at home this season having racked up just one win in the league this season, but they found themselves ahead just four minutes after they’d fallen behind, when Kevin Gameiro was on hand to bury a rebound after his strike partner Ludovic Ajorque had seen his initial effort saved by Brice Samba.

No team in the league had been behind for less time than Lens this season and they didn't waste any time in getting level again in this game, as Lois Openda headed in from a beautiful cross from Florian Sotoca.

The second half was the polar opposite of the first as neither side managed to forge a meaningful shot on goal.

That was until in the 70th minute when Openda raced through on goal from a long kick from Samba only for the Belgian forward to be denied by his compatriot in the Strasbourg goal.

Lens looked the more likely of the two sides to grab a winner as the game was coming to a close, as Sels was called into action numerous times to keep the home side level.

In the end neither could find a winner as Lens stay in second and 19th placed Strasbourg move themselves a point closer to safety.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Matz Sels (Strasbourg)

Troyes 0 Marseille 2

Marseille recorded a sixth consecutive victory across all competitions, as a comfortable 2-0 win over Troyes at the Stade de l’Aube also extended their unbeaten head-to-head record to eight matches. 

Marseille quickly gained control, and their early dominance was rewarded in the tenth minute, when Matteo Guendouzi’s flicked header was converted by Chancel Mbemba from close range.

Buoyed by the early breakthrough, the visitors looked determined to double their advantage in a one-sided opening half, but Mateusz Lis was on hand to thwart Valentin Rongier’s goal-bound effort with a superb fingertip save.

Having conceded at least once in their previous four away league matches, Marseille knew the importance of the next goal, and duly doubled their lead within 60 seconds of the restart.

Cengiz Under, a constant threat to the Troyes defence, did well to reach the byline, and the Turkish international’s inviting delivery was tapped home at the back post by Jordan Veretout.

Faced with a two-goal deficit going into the final half-hour, Troyes desperately searched for a route back into the contest.

Instead, the visitors came closest to extending their advantage, with Sead Kolasinac and Under both wasting excellent chances from inside the box.

In the end, though, there were to be no further goals as Les Olympiens eased to an ultimately comfortable win.

With results going their way in a busy day of Ligue 1 action, Marseille’s triumph sees them open up a five-point gap over fourth-placed Rennes in the process. Meanwhile, Troyes remain in 13th place, four points clear of the relegation zone.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Cengiz Under (Marseille)

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