Paris: With star striker Kylian Mbappe on the bench, Paris St-Germain didn’t much look like a team that wanted to seal the French league title on Sunday.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who started in place of Mbappe, had one of the worst misses seen at the stadium, as PSG’s title celebrations were delayed for at least another week after a 2-2 draw against Strasbourg.
Amid disbelieving looks from teammates, with the score at 1-1 in the first half, Choupo-Moting accidentally prevented a goal for his team despite the ball being about to cross the goal-line.
Turning from hero to villain after scoring the opener, and under pressure, the forward stopped a chip over the Strasbourg goalkeeper from Christopher Nkunku, and gently nudged the ball onto the post before it was cleared.
“I thought that the defender was maybe going to take the ball and, after, I hesitated to take the ball, I asked myself if I was offside and everything went very quickly,” Choupo-Moting said. “I touched the ball but it went onto the post and that is a real shame because I think that Nkunku’s effort was going in on its own. I am sorry for that but we need to continue and keep our heads up.”
Without many of their star players, the Parisian club dropped points at home for the first time this season. PSG coach Thomas Tuchel decided to leave Mbappe on the bench until the 59th minute, a surprising decision especially after the league’s top scorer found the net in his seven previous league matches, and in the absence of injured forwards Angel Di Maria, Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
“We are using him too much,” Tuchel said trying to justify his decision. “Everybody is surprised but he played nine consecutive matches, with the scoring duties. We need to protect the players. It was necessary because Kylian felt a muscular (problem) over the past three matches.”
After Lille’s draw at Reims earlier in the day, PSG would have wrapped up a sixth league trophy in seven seasons with a win but instead needed a late equaliser from Thilo Kehrer to avoid an embarrassing loss.
PSG have a 20-point lead over Lille and will be crowned next week if they beat their northern rivals away.