UEFA Champions League, 08,11/2023
Luuk de Jong got the only goal in a feisty encounter between PSV Eindhoven and RC Lens, which sees the former leapfrog the latter into second place in their UEFA Champions League group.
In torrential conditions in Eindhoven, Lens began brightly. Florian Sotoca set Elye Wahi through on goal, but he was ultimately caught by Serginio Dest before getting a shot away. However, the first half would ultimately belong to PSV, who went ahead thanks to de Jong’s header.
A flurry of half chances fell PSV’s way, but they lacked the clinical edge and didn’t test Samba. Lens incrementally re-established themselves in the tie and had a huge chance to level the scores, but Deiver Machado couldn’t keep his composure when steaming in unmarked at the back-post and blazed a pass across goal over.
Lens began to grow frustrated and received six yellow cards in quick succession on either side of half-time, leaving Les Sang et Or’s whole defence walking a tightrope. As the game entered the final stages, gaps started to appear. PSV had played the game at a high intensity and they began to flag.
Lensois errors did afford the Eredivisie side chances, however, with Johan Bakayoko blazing over after a poor Samba ball out from the back. However, the best chances for Lens, they just couldn’t take them. Morgan Guilavogui struck the foot of the post with a driven shot. The rebound fell to Angelo Fulgini, who couldn’t turn the ball into the back of the net. Kevin Danso then saw his header cleared off the line by Malik Tillman before Guilavogui received two yellows in quick succession. The one goal was enough for PSV to take the three points and leapfrog Lens into second.
Lens player ratings
Brice Samba – 5
Facundo Medina – 4
Kevin Danso – 3 – guilty of a rare lapse in concentration for PSV’s opener, allowing de Jong to gain a couple of yards before finishing past Samba. He, like his centre-back partners, afforded too much space to their opponents and his distribution was uncharacteristically sloppy.
Jonathan Gradit – 3
Deiver Machado – 4
Salis Abdul Samed – 4
Nampalys Mendy – 3 – both Mendy and Abdul Samed were ghosts in this match. PSV had so much joy attacking through the middle and it was as if neither player was there. Both are known for their work-rate and positioning out-of-possession, but their crowning qualities certainly weren’t on display on Wednesday.
Przemyslaw Frankowski – 4
Adrien Thomasson – 3 – struggled to pull the strings and influence the game. He saw little of the ball, but when he did, he didn’t make efficient use of it, and like many of his teammates was guilty of imprecise and wasteful passing.
Elye Wahi – 4
Florian Sotoca – 5 – the only outfield player to walk away with any credit. Pressed well, as always, made the runs, which often weren’t found, and used to ball well to move Lens up the pitch and create dangerous situations. But for Dest’s impressive recovery, he could have had an assist after sending Wahi through on goal in the opening minutes.
PSV selected player ratings
Johan Bakayoko – 7 – had the better of Machado, finding and exploiting space down the right flank. His cross for PSV’s opener was perfect for de Jong to nod home and his creativity was a reliable source of danger. An eye-catching dribbler, his finishing needs some work, but there are the foundations of a good player.
Sergiño Dest – 7 he occupied Frankowski with frequent runs forward, but was also very able defensively, notably recovering to make a crucial tackle on Wahi in the opening minutes. Had he not done so, this game could have looked very different.
Luuk de Jong – 7 – only Harry Kane has more goals than de Jong in Europe’s top six divisions this season and he was clinical once again against Lens. He took his goal well and linked the play well, bringing Hirving Lozano and Bakayoko into play.