*

upload_article_image

PSG scores last-gasp winner, closes gap on leader Lille

Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain scored in the last seconds of injury time to beat Saint-Etienne 3-2 and close the gap on league leader Lille to one point on Sunday.

PSG had just gifted Saint-Etienne an equalizer in the second minute of injury time when Mauro Icardi rose to meet Angel Di Maria's cross three minutes later as the substitutes combined to give PSG a much-needed victory.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe celebrates with teammate Mauro Icardi, left, after scoring his team's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and St Etienne at Parc Des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP PhotoFrancois Mori)

There are only five games left after this weekend in one of the closest title races for many years. Rivals Monaco and Lyon were in action later Sunday, with Monaco going to struggling Bordeaux and Lyon visiting 19th-place Nantes.

All the goals came near the end, with Kylian Mbappe scoring twice to take his league-leading tally to 23.

He equalized with a fine finish in the 78th minute, one minute after striker Denis Bouanga put the visitors ahead at Parc des Princes, and then struck a penalty in the 86th after he was fouled by goalkeeper Etienne Green.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe scores his team's second goal from the penalty spot during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and St Etienne at Parc Des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP PhotoFrancois Mori)

But PSG gifted the visitors a goal when Bouanga was given too much space down the left and his shot was poorly dealt with by goalkeeper Sergio Rico with Romain Hamouma in position to tap in.

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino was without several key players.

Neymar and central midfielders Leandro Paredes and Idrissa Gueye were suspended. Central defender Marquinhos is recovering from an adductor injury and standout goalkeeper Keylor Navas rested a sore shoulder.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, left, and Saint-Etienne's Miguel Trauco battle for the ball during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and St Etienne at Parc Des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP PhotoFrancois Mori)

Pochettino's side struggled to create chances but winger Pablo Sarabia struck the post with a freekick after 30 minutes and Green — a former club ball boy — made his first save five minutes later from Rafinha's low shot.

In between, Saint-Etienne winger Wahbi Khazri had a goal ruled out for offisde.

Pochettino made a triple substitution midway through the second half, bringing on midfielder Marco Verratti, winger Di Maria and Icardi.

Saint-Etienne's Romain Hamouma, right, reacts after scoring his team's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and St Etienne at Parc Des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP PhotoFrancois Mori)

Di Maria failed to close down on the left and overlapping full back Miguel Trauco had plenty of time to pick out Bouanga's close-range finish.

But Saint-Etienne was napping at the restart.

Verratti's long ball over the top was expertly controlled by Mbappe with the outside his foot and he slid it under Green for 1-1.

Saint-Etienne's Romain Hamouma, obscured, is congratulated by teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and St Etienne at Parc Des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP PhotoFrancois Mori)

Pochettino's first game in charge of PSG also against Saint-Etienne in January ended in a draw and he was somewhat fortunate this time.

Lille dropped points when it was held 1-1 at home to Montpellier on Friday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports