Ligue 1 Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) Lee Kang-In has once again linked up with Kylian Mbappe. After assisting Mbappe’s goal in their last league match, the tables were turned. Lee scored his much-anticipated league debut and PSG extended their unbeaten streak to five games in all competitions.
PSG defeated Montpellier 3-0 in the 11th round of the 2023-24 Ligue 1 season on Thursday morning (ET) at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France. The win was PSG’s fourth straight in the league and fifth straight in all competitions. PSG recorded its seventh league win (three draws) and reclaimed first place with 24 points.
It was Lee Kang-in who opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a powerful left-footed shot that rattled the net after being met by an Achraf Hakimi cross. Mbappe’s sensible passing on the way to the goal was also a highlight. Spurred on by the momentum, PSG sealed the three-goal victory in the second half with goals from Warren Zaire-Emery and Vitinha.
PSG coach Luis Enrique once again lined up in a 4-2-4 formation. Mbappe and Kolo Moani were up front, with Lee Kang-In and Ousmane Dembele on the wings. Manuel Ugarte and Zaire-Emery formed the midfield. The back four was Nordy Moukiele-Milan Skriniar-Marquinhos-Hakimi, with Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.
The game started with the home fans cheering loudly, but it was PSG who found themselves in trouble in the second minute. A long ball from the back by Montpellier was contested and found Khalil Fayed. Fayed sent the ball the other way with Shkreliar in front of him. The penetrating Tejay Savanier connected with a right-footed shot, but Moukiele threw himself to block the ball.
Meanwhile, Lee Kang-In was deployed slightly inside rather than outright on the wing. This seemed to open up space for Mbappe to roam freely up the left. It paid off in the 10th minute with a goal. Hakimi made a neat run down the right flank before crossing into the center. The ball was headed towards Mbappe, but he chose to let it go. After cutting in, Lee calmly collected the ball with his left foot and rattled the net with a powerful shot. It was such a precise shot that the goalkeeper couldn’t even dive.
After the goal, Lee celebrated by hugging Mbappe, who played the ball to him. The goal was Lee’s Ligue 1 debut. It was also Lee’s third consecutive attacking point. Lee scored his debut goal as a substitute in the third leg of the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group F match against AC Milan (Italy) on March 26, making it 3-0. Three days later, he picked up his first Ligue 1 assist, setting up Mbappe’s goal in an away win over Brest.
With momentum in their favor, PSG tried to attack down the right flank with Mounie and Dembele, with the latter unleashing a powerful right-footed shot from no angle in the 26th minute that was saved by the goalkeeper. Shortly after, Lee Kang-In’s corner kick was met by Mbappe’s right-footed shot from a loose ball, but it went wide of the post.
Seven minutes later, Mbappe once again received a cross in the box, but this time he was blocked by the defense and couldn’t find Lee. In the 38th minute, Lee shined in defense. When the ball was headed to the sideline, he didn’t hesitate to use his body to save the ball. It was impressive to see that he was not afraid to contest the ball. He then crossed for Muani, but the ball was blocked by the defense. In the 42nd minute, Lee played a neat long pass to Dembele to set up an attack. However, Dembele’s cross was also blocked by the defense.
In the second half, after Mbappe’s incredible run, PSG pushed for a second goal with Hakimi’s aggressive overlapping, and it paid off in the 13th minute. Hakimi-Zaire-Emerick Aubameyang-Dembele combined to completely open up Montpellier’s back four with a combination of link-up play and ball-less movement. Zaire-Emerick played the ball into the center of the box, where Dembele picked it up in a difficult position and returned it with a deft heel pass. Zaire-Emery finished with his right foot to complete the scoring.
And Lee’s job was done until the 17th minute of the second half, when he left the field for Vitinha. His last three games in a row seemed to have been managed. PSG will face Milan in the UCL Group F fourth leg in four days’ time. Top of Group F, PSG have two wins and one loss from their first three games, and it’s crucial that they secure a point against Milan, who are bottom of the group.
Meanwhile, PSG once again broke Montpellier down the right flank. In the 21st minute of the second half, Dembele’s pass found the penetrating Hakimi, who crossed the ball into the center of the box, just like Lee did in the first half. This time, Vitinha was there. Vitinha took a direct shot with his right foot and rattled the net.
With an early lead, PSG took it easy. In the 26th minute, Marquinhos was taken off for Lucas Hernandez. Four minutes later, Mbappe had a chance to open the scoring with a mid-range effort, but the ball sailed over the crossbar. Mbappe was unable to find the back of the net.
Zaire-Emery and Hakimi were then substituted to finish the job. Montpellier pushed for an equalizer in stoppage time, but their counterattack was not complete. Instead, a header from Gonzalo Hamus came two minutes into extra time. The attack was called off for offside. Montpellier had a chance in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Savanier’s indirect free-kick found its way through the players and towards the goal, but Donnarumma made a last-ditch save to preserve the clean sheet.
After the game, there was plenty of praise for Lee. In his post-match interview, Enrique said, “He’s small, but he can attack, midfield, defend, and score. He’s a complete player. When we signed him, we knew his potential,” he exclaimed. “He can still grow, and he’s working hard,” he said.
“He gives his best, he doesn’t lose the ball, he’s good at breaking down pressure. He scores, he assists. He has a hunger for the game. This hunger is an important factor for growth.” The man behind the signing was also revealed. “I’ve known Lee since he played in Spain,” Enrique said. Luis Campos played a big role (in the signing),” Enrique explained.
After the match, local French publication Le Parisien gave Lee a 7.5 rating. It was the highest rating of any PSG player on the day. Hakimi, who had two assists, was rated 7. L’Equipe said of Lee: “He didn’t just make safe passes, he had a 100% success rate. It will be difficult to take him out of the team.” 캡틴토토 도메인
Lee’s personal record was also outstanding. According to soccer statistician Sofascore, in 62 minutes, Lee had a 100% passing success rate (48 attempts – 48 successful), 1 key pass, 3 dribbles, 6 ground ball contests, 1 foul, and 2 tackles.
What caught our eye was Lee’s area of activity. The Ligue 1 secretariat released a heat map of Lee after the game, and you can see that he was all over the left side. He seems to have taken on a so-called ‘mezzalah’ role. Being on the same line as Mbappe gives him more space to defend, but he proved in this game that he can do it with his aggressive tackling. Enrique also seems to be paying attention to his fitness by taking him off early. That’s why we think he’ll get the green light to compete for a starting spot.