PSG secure 10th French title but celebrations are muted

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PARIS, April 23 (Reuters) – Paris St Germain secured a record-equalling 10th French top flight title after stuttering to a 1-1 draw against 10-man RC Lens but the celebrations were rather muted as frustrated fans headed for the Parc des Princes exit immediately after Saturday’s final whistle.

Lionel Messi’s goal was cancelled out by Corentin Jean as PSG were left on 78 points, 16 ahead of second-placed Olympique de Marseille who will play their game in hand at Stade de Reims on Sunday.

PSG have now won eight of the last 10 Ligue 1 titles, having only been denied by Monaco in 2017 and Lille last year.

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PSG equalized the record set by St Etienne, who won 10 top flight titles between 1957 and 1981.

Sealing the Ligue 1 title, however, was not a cause for celebration for the fans who were still irritated by the club’s exit in the last-16 from the Champions League.

PSG were knocked out after squandering a 2-0 aggregate lead in 15 minutes against Real Madrid.

On Saturday, the stadium was empty 10 minutes after the game ended and the players skipped the traditional lap of honor.

Some ultra fans had already left the Parc des Princes 15 minutes before the final whistle.

“It’s something I do not understand. In football, you win, you lose. We try with all our heart,” said Marco Verratti, the only player to have won eight top flight French titles.

Fans from the Boulogne and Auteuil stands did not show their support once again even though their team had won their four previous games, scoring 16 goals during that run.

PSG were under pressure early on but came to life after 20 minutes when an exchange between Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar almost bore fruit as the Brazilian’s low shot from inside the box went just wide.

BOOED BY CROWD

Achraf Hakimi was denied by Jean-Louis Leca and Mbappe missed two clear chances as the hosts upped the pace, but Lens also threatened through Seko Fofana and Jonathan Clauss.

PSG were booed by the crowd at halftime.

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Kevin Danso picked up a second yellow card for a rough tackle on Neymar in the 57th minute.

On the resulting free kick, Leca had to fully stretch to parry away Messi’s attempt.

The Argentine forward curled a perfect 25-meter shot into the top corner in the 68th minute after being set up by Neymar.

Part of the crowd chanted Messi’s name but ultras from the Auteuil stands left the stadium seven minutes later and missed Lens’ equalizer when Jean latched onto a cross by Deiver Machado at the far post to give the visitors a deserved point.

Lens, who had won their three previous games and are still hoping to finish in the top three, are left in seventh place on 54 points, five behind Monaco who beat St Etienne 4-1 away earlier on Saturday.

The game at Geoffroy Guichard was interrupted for almost half an hour after fireworks were lit in the stands.

Olympique Lyonnais are eighth on 52 points after a spectacular 5-2 win against Montpellier.

Lyon fans insulted club striker Karl Toko Emkambi, who eventually responded with expletives, leaving club president Jean-Michel Aulas dumbfounded.

“The reaction of a small part of the public is regrettable. I got on the microphone to say stop insulting the players,” he said.

“Fans pay to come but that does not give them all the rights. If this goes on I would prefer to leave. That’s not what football is about.”

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Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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