While You Were Asleep: Haaland wins it for Man City, Mbappe-Messi rescue PSG, Napoli move 18 points clear atop Serie A

Erling Haaland converted a 78th minute penalty to secure Manchester City a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace and kept up the pressure on Arsenal.

Haaland spurned a great chance in the first half but calmly converted from the spot in the 78th minute after Michael Olise clumsily clattered into Ilkay Gundogan in the area.

Haaland’s 28th goal in 27 league games came after a cleverly taken corner by City. With Palace players switching off, City played a short corner to Gundogan, who was wide open inside the area. Olise rushed in to challenge the midfielder, only to kick his leg as he tried to get to the ball.

Palace again looked toothless in attack and finished without a single shot on target for the third league game in a row.

The win brought City within two points of leader Arsenal ahead of the Gunners’ visit to Fulham on Sunday. Palace was still looking for a first victory of 2023.

PSG beat Brest 2-1

Kylian Mbappe beat the offside trap to collect a throughball from Lionel Messi in the 90th minute and rounded goalkeeper Marco Bizot to slot into an empty net. The goal gave PSG a 2-1 win over Brest.

PSG was knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich on Wednesday and is left with winning Ligue 1. PSG leads second-placed Marseille by 11 points.

Brest goalkeeper Bizot frustrated PSG in the second half, palming away Messi’s effort from the edge of the box in the 65th and saving a close-range attempt from Nuno Mendes in the 70th.

Brest had very little possession but managed to expose the fragility of the PSG defense. The host capitalized on a counterattack to level in the 44th. Franck Honorat made a run in behind Sergio Ramos to chase a long ball from Romain Del Castillo and held off Timothee Pembele to shoot high past goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

PSG has kept just two clean sheets in the league since the World Cup.

No stopping Napoli

The comparisons with Diego Maradona keep coming for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. And, just like the Argentina great, Kvaratskhelia appears to be leading Napoli to the Serie A title.

There were, indeed, echoes of Maradona in Kvaratskhelia’s opening goal in a 2-0 win over Atalanta which sent Napoli 18 points clear at the top of Serie A.

Kvaratskhelia lived up to his “Kvaradona” nickname when he bedazzled the Atalanta defense on the hour mark. He collected the ball from Victor Osimhen, weaved his way into the area, twisting and turning between defenders, and blasted into the roof of the net.

“Kvara displayed the fabulous quality he has. He scored a goal worthy of Maradona today,” Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti said. “He’s just phenomenal one on one.

“The way he sways past opponents it’s impossible to tell which way he’ll go, then he shoots with precision and power. This time you can bring up the best ever player.”

Maradona led Napoli to its only two Italian league titles in 1987 and 1990.

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