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Paris, April 9 – Goals from Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos powered Paris Saint-Germain to a 2-0 victory at Nice to snap their two-match losing streak in French Ligue 1.
The win on late Saturday night also put the 10-time league champions back to six points in front of Lens in the standings, to some degree temporarily easing the pressure on every member in the team, especially head coach Christophe Galtier and superstar Messi.
“It was a difficult match. We knew we had a lot of pressure on our shoulders both because of our poor performances and because of Lens winning, and especially because Nice are a really good team who have been on a great run,” said Galtier, who led Nice to a fifth-place finish last season before taking the rein of the Parisians.
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi, who has been whistled by Paris fans in the last two home matches, opened the scoring in the first half from a low cross into the box by left back Nuno Mendes.
Ramos, who just came back from a calf injury, scored his first goal of this season as the Spaniard headed in a Messi corner with 14 minutes remaining to seal the win for PSG, a Xinhua report said.
But it was the man standing between the post that was named the player of the match. Gianluigi Donnarumma made three excellent saves to deny Hicham Boudaoui and Nicolas Pepe’s efforts in the first half, and refuse Youssouf Ndayishimiye’s close-range strike in the second.
“It was definitely not our best performance of the season, but the players fought for each other and it is obviously three important points,” Galtier said.
Nice proved to be a tricky side as they managed 21 shots against PSG’s shaky defense in the match, eight more the visitors, only to fail to score a goal.
A slip-up would be little short of disaster for PSG as two consecutive home defeats against Rennes and Lyon had put Galtier’s position in risk. The Qatar-owned club lost eight of 18 games in 2023, including a humiliating exit from the French Cup and a disappointing defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
“We know that we can do much better and, in the current context, we have to take it step by step,” captain Marquinhos said after the win. “Paris Saint-Germain never died. Even we’re experiencing turbulence, with the players that this club has, with the supporters who have passion and determination, this club can never be dead.”
Earlier in the day, bottom side Angers, who hosted fifth-ranked Lille, earned their first win in 22 league games thanks to a winner by defender Halid Sabanovic in the 84th minute.
On Friday, the second-placed Lens wrapped up their fourth consecutive win by beating Strasbourg 2-1 at home to tighten the title race.
The northern outfit will head to the capital city to challenge the defending champions on April 15, a clash set to be vital for both sides as Lens are eyeing a return to the continental competitions after over 20 years.
Polish winger Przemyslaw Frankowski put Lens ahead of the relegation-threatened visitors with a goal initially denied offside but validated after a VAR check. Facundo Medina’s low strike made it two for Lens in the second half before Kevin Gameiro pulled one back for the Alsace side six minutes to the end of regular time.