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Ligue 1: Virus-Depleted PSG Overpowered by New Boys in League Opener

Paris Saint-Germain’s depleted squad could not get the Ligue 1 champions’ title defence off to a winning start as they were beaten 1-0 away on Lens on Thursday.

The Parisian was without seven first-team players due to positive coronavirus tests, with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Keylor Navas and Mauro Icardi among those missing, and their makeshift XI failed to break down the hosts.

Lens went closest in the first half as Ignatius Ganago struck the right-hand post after fine individual work, but otherwise PSG controlled proceedings, seeing 78 per cent of the ball in the opening 45 minutes, even though they did not threaten particularly often.

The defending champions continued to dictate the ball but had just three shots – none of which were on target – in the second half and a Marcin Bulka error gifted Lens the lead in the 57th minute, with Ganago’s goal ultimately proving decisive.

Despite the unfamiliar look of the PSG side, Lens were unable to put them under a great deal of pressure, though Ganago did go close in the 17th minute when he hit the post after leaving the visitors’ defence in knots.

At the other end, Kays Ruiz-Atil showed plenty of promise for PSG, the 18-year-old winger shooting just wide with a nonchalant attempt from just outside the penalty area.

The other teenager in PSG’s starting XI, Arnaud Kalimuendo, nearly sniffed out a chance just before half-time as he looked to latch on to Marco Verratti’s lofted pass, but Jean-Louis Leca rushed out of the goal to end the danger just in time.

Bulka was significantly less commanding in the PSG net just before the hour, however, as he squandered possession from a short, simple pass, and Ganago took full advantage as he smashed past the youngster to make it 1-0.

It should have been 2-0 soon after, but Simon Banza attempted a diving-header from point-blank range when it made more sense to use his foot, and Bulka made the block.

The action comes thick and fast over the coming weeks for PSG, who are next in action against Marseille in Le Classique on Sunday, their second fixture in a run of four matches in 11 days. Lens go to Lorient on the same day.

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