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Mbappe scores for PSG leader, Saint-Etienne lose

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PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the French Ligue 1 soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Brest at Parc des Princes in Paris, Saturday, January 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

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Kylian Mbappe’s 10th French league goal helped leaders Paris Saint-Germain overcome a sloppy start to beat Brest 2-0 and stay 11 points clear of second-placed Nice on Saturday.

PSG were missing Lionel Messi as he continues to recover from coronavirus and struggled early on.

Brest striker Irvin Cardona was sharp and forced goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into two smart saves.

Mbappe’s excellent form glossed over PSG’s shortcomings this season, and he curled a shot into the bottom left corner of the penalty area in the 32nd minute.

PSG midfielder Marco Verratti hit the post just after the break, and left-back Nuno Mendes put in fellow defender Thilo Kehrer for a volley from close range in the 53rd.

Brest were in 13th place but finished as the strongest team.

Earlier, Saint-Etienne’s campaign took a turn for the worse when they conceded in injury time and lost at home to Lens 2-1.

Lowest-placed Saint-Etienne have won just two games and lost 12, leaving them four points behind 19th-placed Metz.

Captain Seko Fofana brilliantly curled the ball in five minutes in stoppage time to give fourth-placed Lens another late win after an 88th-minute strike against Rennes last weekend.

Fired coach Claude Puel made little difference for Saint-Etienne, once one of the most entertaining sides in Europe during Michel Platini’s era.

Puel’s replacement Pascal Dupraz saved Toulouse from relegation against all odds in 2017, and Saint-Etienne are just as bad this time around.

Sunday’s fixture pick will see third-placed Marseille host defending champions Lille.

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