Despite having more than half a billion euros of attacking talent on the field, Paris Saint-Germain still fell to a 3-2 defeat at lowly Lorient on Sunday and Lille then won to claim the top spot in the French league.
PSG lined up with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi — known in French soccer circles as the “Fantastic Four.” They cost PSG a combined 513 million euros ($622 million), and faced a modest club in a Brittany seaport known simply as “The Hakes” after the cod-like fish.
When PSG was coasting to the French title last season, Lorient was fighting to get back into the top flight. So this appeared a total mismatch, especially with Lorient anchored near the foot of the table.
But Neymar’s two penalties were not enough, as PSG leaked two late goals and sank to a fifth league defeat in what is shaping up to be a difficult season.
“I’m disappointed and sad about the result,” PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said. “There was a problem with our organization.”
Lille, meanwhile, scraped a 1-0 home victory against Dijon with a first-half goal from attacking midfielder Yusuf Yazici to move two points ahead of Lyon and three clear of third-place PSG.
Lille and Lyon have lost only two games each, while fourth-place Monaco is only three points behind PSG after winning 2-1 at Nantes.
After pulling a silly face to celebrate his second penalty, Neymar cut a different figure at the final whistle, throwing his arms up in exasperation as he looked at the defense. An equally frustrated Mbappe did the same.
This was Pochettino’s first defeat since replacing Thomas Tuchel, who was fired in December.
“We need to increase our tempo and level,” Pochettino said. “It was tough game, but we never showed the tempo we needed to win the game.”
But the manner of this loss, with two goals conceded late, will raise concerns with PSG facing Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in the Champions League on Feb. 16.
Lorient is languishing in 18th place but took the lead in the 35th minute through captain Laurent Abergel after PSG’s Danilo Pereira was closed down on the edge of the penalty area.
“I think we underestimated Lorient, and they believed in themselves,” Pereira said.
Neymar’s first penalty came on the stroke of halftime when Houboulang Mendes fouled him and the Brazil star sent goalkeeper Matthieu Dreyer the wrong way.
PSG appealed for another penalty in the 55th for a handball by Mendes, but the referee ruled it out after a video review. Moments later, he awarded one when Mendes fouled Icardi. Neymar again wrong-footed Dreyer from the spot.
But PSG’s complacency cost it again as substitute forward Yoane Wissa equalized with 10 minutes left, firing home after playing a near one-two with Terem Moffi.
Moffi then hit the winner in the first minute of injury time after Abergel picked him out on a swift counterattack, and he held off defender Presnel Kimpembe before shooting past goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
“There was some confusion in our defense,” Pochettino said. “We gave Lorient the opportunity to counter us.”
But with so much talent at his disposal, Pochettino at least refused to consider the absence of central midfielder Marco Verratti as a significant factor.
“Marco is an important player, but you need to know how to play without certain players,” he said. “We all lose together, and I’m the main one responsible.”
Yazici put Lille ahead in the 29th with his 12th goal of the season in all competitions.
He took the ball off hesitant defender Bruno Ecuele Manga inside the penalty area, then showed good footwork to round the goalkeeper and roll the ball in.
Dijon is in 19th place but caused Lille a few problems in the second half, and coach Christophe Galtier looked tense in the closing stages.
Monaco has won five straight league games and six in seven.
Germany forward Kevin Volland grabbed Monaco’s second goal after Chile defender Guillermo Maripan opened the scoring just before the break.
Volland thumped home Caio Henrique’s pass in the 60th, before Nantes pulled a goal back 10 minutes later through Belgian striker Renaud Emond.
Former France coach Raymond Domenech has drawn three games and lost two since taking charge of Nantes, which is 17th but only leads Lorient on goal difference.
The day after 250 fans of struggling Saint-Etienne interrupted the club’s training session, the players responded to their demands with a 1-0 win at Nice.
Striker Charles Abi got the winner with just three minutes left as 16th place Saint-Etienne secured a much-needed victory.
Elsewhere, Angers beat Nimes 3-1, Metz topped Brest 4-2, and Reims beat Strasbourg 1-0.
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