8/31/2019 1:03:54 AM

PSG beat Metz in latest Ligue 1 game to be halted

PSG beat Metz in latest Ligue 1 game to be halted

Metz, France: Depleted Paris Saint-Germain gave debuts to two teenagers but still won 2-0 at Metz on Friday in a another Ligue 1 game interrupted by fan banners.

Angel Di Maria and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored the goals the visitors needed to win an undistinguished game.

"We won, and that was important," said Di Maria.

After 20 minutes, with PSG 1-0 ahead after Di Maria converted a penalty, home fans unfurled a four-part, 25-word home-made, hand-written banner.

It complained that they wanted the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

Referee Frank Schneider halted play, but as the teams headed for the sideline, the banner vanished. The game restarted after three minutes with a drop ball.

PSG started without the injured pair of Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. Neymar, who reportedly wants to return to Spain, was again left out of the squad, and another player who has become the centre of transfer speculation, goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, dropped to the bench.

Areola, a France international, is reportedly set to go to Real Madrid in a swap for veteran Costa Rican Keylor Navas.

Marcin Bulka started instead, making his senior professional debut. The 19-year-old Pole arrived in the summer after spending three seasons in the Chelsea youth system.

PSG also gave a debut to midfielder Adil Aouchiche. At 17 years and six weeks, he was their youngest ever Ligue 1 starter.

Di Maria smashed home an 11th-minute penalty to give PSG the lead, although there was a pause while Schneider considered a retake because of an intervention by home fans.

A match ball thrown from behind the goal towards Di Maria had already passed the crossbar when the Argentine took the spot-kick.

Idrissa Gueye hit the Metz bar with a close-range header. The home team's marking had not improved when Choupo-Moting barely had to jump to head home the second goal in the 43rd minute.

Metz gave PSG some uncomfortable moments but could not force Bulka to make a difficult save.

Striker Habib Diallo flashed a couple of long-range strikes just wide in the first half.

In a largely uneventful second half, Opa Nguette of Metz burst into the PSG box but Colin Dagba blocked his powerful shot.

Then, Farid Boulaya curled a free-kick wide after a nasty foul by Aouchiche just outside the box. Marvin Gakpa also shot wide for Metz in the dying seconds.

French football is in the midst of a culture war over homophobic chanting.

Local prosecutors have opened an investigation into Nice fans after referee Clement Turpin took the players off for more than 10 minutes on Wednesday night in response to homophobic chants and banners during the club's home loss to Marseille in Ligue 1. 

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