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Mbappe, Vitinha give 10-men PSG hard fought win at Le Havre

Paris Saint-Germain's Portuguese midfielder #17 Vitinha (C) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe (2L) after scoring PSG's fourth goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and AS Monaco at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on 24 November 2023. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Paris Saint-Germain ground out a tense 2-0 victory away to Le Havre on Sunday courtesy of strikes by Kylian Mbappe and Vitinha, after ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saw red early on.

Despite the two-goal win, PSG had to show great resilience to keep the hosts at bay and move four points clear of second-placed Nice in the table.

After going down to 10 men in the 10th minute, a fine Mbappe goal, his 15th in the league this season, gave the embattled visitors the lead, but the points were only wrapped up right at the end when Portuguese midfielder Vitinha doubled the score with one minute remaining of normal time.

“(I am) very proud of what the team showed, the mentality, the ability to adapt to the different things that happened during the game, and the team spirit,” said PSG coach Luis Enrique.

“We showed determination to defend more than usual, and we defended very well.

“We didn’t concede too many chances and the ones we did concede were saved by Arnau (Tenas),” added Enrique.

The 22-year-old reserve goalkeeper, who joined PSG in the summer on a free transfer from Barcelon, made a surprise professional debut when he was unexpectedly called on with 12 minutes on the clock.

“He (Tenas) is a top pro, he trains every day like it is his last,” said Enrique.

Red card

Le Havre started brightly and won a series of early corners, one of which forced the visitors into a change when Fabian Ruiz injured his right shoulder defending a set-piece.

However, it was a long ball that finally broke down the Parisian defense as a clearance was not dealt with by Nordi Mukiele, allowing Josue Casimir to nip in before being abruptly halted by Donnarumma.

The Italian’s desperate attempt to clear the ball resulted in him catching the Le Havre man very high on the shoulder outside the box and the referee was left with little choice but to brandish a red card.

Despite their numerical disadvantage and the loss of attacker Bradley Barcola, sacrificed for ‘keeper Tenas, it was PSG who opened the scoring.

Ousmane Dembele drilled a pass into his captain’s feet and Mbappe’s first touch took him inside the defender and with a yard of space he wrong-footed the goalie from inside the D, scoring via the post.

Chances came at both ends just before the hour mark with Mohamed Bayo shooting tamely at Tenas from a promising position, before Dembele fired across goal with the ball brushing against the far post.

The hosts began to press and only a fine save by Tenas in the 64th minute and a vital sliding interception by Danilo Pereira three minutes later kept PSG’s lead intact.

But it was Dembele and PSG that had the best chance to score the second goal of the match in the 70th minute, however, a retreating Christopher Operi managed to foil the winger.

Tenas then came to the league leaders rescue again with an excellent double save at his near post from Nabil Alioui with 12 minutes remaining.

Victory was finally assured in the 89th minute when a PSG foray into Le Havre territory led to Vitinha trying his luck from distance, with a large deflection causing the ball to loop over the helpless goalkeeper.

In Sunday’s afternoon kick-offs, Monaco profited from Nice’s slip-up on Saturday to close the gap to two points with a 2-0 win at home to Montpellier.

Takumi Minamino sent the hosts on their way with nine minutes gone and Wissam Ben Yedder sealed the win two minutes into additional time in the second half.

Brest brushed aside lowly Clermont 3-0 thanks to a brace from Romain Del Castillo and a Mathias Pereira Lage strike.

A 91st-minute equaliser from Bamba Dieng ensured the spoils would be shared between Toulouse and Lorient after Thijs Dallinga had given the hosts the lead with 72 minutes on the clock.

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