Paris Saint-Germain brought a measure of solace to their beleaguered coach Antoine Kombouare with a 3-2 win at home to AJ Auxerre on Sunday that ended a damaging four-game winless streak.
Media reports claim Kombouare could be ushered through the exit at any moment, but he saw his side prevail through an 81st-minute penalty by Nene.
Nene’s goal put the hosts 3-1 up, but Auxerre set up an edgy finale when substitute Dariusz Dudka ripped a scorching free-kick into the top-right corner with three minutes remaining.
The result took PSG back into second place above LOSC Lille Metropole, three points behind leaders Montpellier Herault, while Auxerre remain 16th.
“I’m taking this quite peacefully at the moment,” Kombouare said. “If we come through this period unscathed, we’ll be very, very strong. I am as I am — still standing, ready to go into battle.”
PSG controlled possession in the first half, but they did not trouble visiting goalkeeper Olivier Sorin, although Jeremy Berthod was fortunate not to concede a penalty after blocking a Nene free-kick with his arm.
Jeers greeted the halftime whistle and the home fans’ mood was not improved by two extraordinary misses inside the first three minutes of the second period.
First, Javier Pastore miscued from close range and then Nene committed an even bigger howler by rolling the ball against the left-hand post from barely 3m out, albeit at a slight angle.
Jeremy Menez was at the origin of both opportunities, but he refused to be cowed by his teammates’ wastefulness and moments later he teed up Christophe Jallet to slash a shot into the bottom-right corner for the opening goal.
Relief swept around the Parc des Princes, but it proved short-lived as Dennis Oliech drew Auxerre level seven minutes later.
The Kenyan followed in after Salvatore Sirigu saved his initial shot and slammed the rebound past the Italian goalkeeper via a deflection off PSG skipper Mamadou Sakho.
The Parc des Princes became restless, but Menez restored the hosts’ lead in the 76th minute when he converted Nene’s cross, before Nene scored what proved to be the winner from the spot after he had been fouled by Cedric Hengbart.
“The coach is trying to do his best and we’re all behind him,” said Nene, who also paid tribute to his late countryman Socrates, the brother of former PSG favorite Rai. “It’s sad news, a huge loss for Brazil.”
In Sunday’s late game, Olympique Lyonnais saw off a late Toulouse fightback to record a 3-2 win that lifted them above Stade Rennais into fourth place.
Lyon led through a Bakary Kone header, a fine strike from Ederson and a Lisandro Lopez penalty when substitute Umut Bulut netted with an audacious long-range effort in the 68th minute to give the visitors hope.
Moussa Sissoko further reduced the arrears from the penalty spot in the 75th minute, but Lyon held on to close to within two points of third-placed Lille.
Elsewhere, a goal after just 14 seconds by Jaroslav Plasil — the fastest of the season so far — set Girondins de Bordeaux on their way to a 2-0 win at home to second-bottom AS Nancy-Lorraine.
Brazilian defender Henrique claimed the second goal at the start of the second half as Francis Gillot’s side recorded consecutive wins for the first time this season.