Football

Neymar nets free-kick as PSG begin vital month in style

A superb Neymar free-kick helped Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-0 win at troubled Lille yesterday morning (Singapore time) as the Ligue 1 leaders began a decisive month with a win.

The world's most expensive player netted the second goal at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy after Yuri Berchiche had opened the scoring just before half-time.

Giovani Lo Celso's delightful chip secured the victory late on, with PSG now 11 points clear of Marseille at the top of the table.

PSG have won 12 of their last 13 games in all competitions, including four in a row since last month's 2-1 defeat at Lyon.

Their season-defining Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid is fast approaching, with the first leg to come in the Spanish capital on Feb 14.

"The best preparation for the match in Madrid is to be competitive in every match and work on the things that we can improve," said PSG coach Unai Emery.

He will hope to have the likes of Adrien Rabiot, Julian Draxler and Thiago Motta back fit for that game, while Kylian Mbappe will almost certainly start at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"A lot of things can still happen. I cannot say today who is going to play in Madrid, that is impossible. I just hope the best is still to come," added Emery, whose team have a French Cup tie at Sochaux to come on Tuesday.

Lille are a club with serious off-field worries, concerns about their finances leading to them being handed a transfer embargo that prevented them from adding to their squad last month.

Sports daily L'Equipe even reported on Saturday that the club had been told they face being relegated at the end of the season if their financial situation does not hugely improve, regardless of their final league position.

Elsewhere, Marseille claimed an extraordinary 6-3 win over bottom club Metz, with Florian Thauvin scoring a hat-trick, while French right backMathieu Debuchy, who left Arsenal on a free transfer last week, scored on his debut for Saint-Etienne in their 2-0 win at Amiens. - AFP

Football