A fine goal from record signing Javier Pastore set Paris Saint-Germain on their way to a 2-0 victory over Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday that sent PSG three points clear in Ligue 1 and confirmed their title credentials.
Pastore broke the deadlock midway through the second half, with Christophe Jallet netting in the last minute as PSG proved that Qatar Sports Investments’ massive summer spending spree has made them France’s team to beat.
Despite the symbolic nature of the win, PSG coach Antoine Kombouare sought to downplay expectations after the match.
“For me, it’s just a match with three points at stake,” Kombouare said. “Today we’re first, but there are 29 matches to go. There will be injuries and drops in form. We’ll have to see how we cope with that. We’ll savor this, but then we’ll have to start working again.”
Despite Lyon’s ease on the ball, PSG’s pace on the counterattack gave them an edge and they procured the clearest scoring opportunities in the first half.
Hugo Lloris had to push away a shot from Jeremy Menez in the fifth minute and only an alert piece of defending by Maxime Gonalons prevented Pastore from pulling the trigger shortly afterwards.
PSG twice went close around the 20-minute mark, with Pastore seeing a toe-poke deflected onto the post by Kim Kallstrom and Menez then obliging Lloris to save with his legs.
There were howls of derision from the home fans in the 29th minute when Pastore tumbled under a Jimmy Briand challenge just inside the penalty area, only for referee Stephane Lannoy to award a free-kick on the edge of the box.
Lyon’s best chance of the half saw Alexandre Lacazette direct a header narrowly off target, but they threatened early in the second period when Bafetimbi Gomis headed across goal and wide from Michel Bastos’ deep cross.
With the intensity of the game flagging, Pastore produced a moment of class that broke the deadlock in the 64th minute.
Picked out by Mathieu Bodmer on the left, he drove past Bakary Kone and then beat Lloris at his near post with a left-foot drive that threatened to take the roof off the famous old stadium.
Lloris intervened smartly when Pastore released Kevin Gameiro moments later, before Gomis squandered a huge chance to equalize when he headed wide from close range after Bastos’ cross found him unmarked with the goal gaping.
There were further chances for the hosts, but PSG’s supporters had to wait until the 90th minute for substitute Jallet to meet Nene’s free-kick with an emphatic volley and secure a cherished victory.
Defending champions LOSC Lille Metropole broke a run of five straight draws with a 2-0 victory over Stade Rennais, but Olympique de Marseille’s domestic woes continued in a 1-1 draw at home to Stade Brestois 29.
Lille were held 1-1 at Trabzonspor in the Champions League last week, but they comfortably overcame Rennes through goals from Moussa Sow and Florent Balmont to climb to fifth in the table.
Marseille have just one win in nine Ligue 1 matches and they sit 13th after the stalemate with Brest.
Romain Poyet gave the visitors the lead in the fifth minute with a tame shot that Steve Mandanda somehow allowed to creep underneath him. Andre Ayew then tapped home a 19th-minute equalizer from Loic Remy’s low cross.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
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