Fri, May 04, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Nene, Pastore find the net as PSG close in on leaders

AFP, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain’s Jeremy Menez, left, shoots as AS Saint-Etienne’s Sylvain Marchal slides in to block in their Ligue 1 match in Paris, France, on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Paris Saint-Germain reinvigorated their Ligue 1 title challenge by winning 2-0 at home to AS Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, cutting Montpellier Herault’s lead at the top of the table to three points with three games to play.

Nene put PSG ahead from the penalty spot in the 21st minute at the Parc des Princes after Sylvain Marchal had been harshly penalized for sliding in on Jeremy Menez in an attempt to block the winger’s shot.

Menez hit the post on the half hour, but PSG had to wait until the 88th minute for Javier Pastore to make the game safe, the Argentine crisply dispatching Christophe Jallet’s low cross to claim his 12th goal of the season.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side visit Valenciennes on Sunday, before hosting Stade Rennais and traveling to Lorient, while Montpellier’s run-in sees them visit Stade Rennais, host third-placed LOSC Lille Metropole and then go to AJ Auxerre on the season’s final day.

The win moved PSG back in front of defending champions Lille, who had briefly taken possession of second place by winning 1-0 at OGC Nice earlier in the evening.

Tulio de Melo scored the game’s only goal in the sixth minute, nodding in a left-wing cross from Eden Hazard after the Belgian winger had bamboozled a pair of defenders with a sharp Cruyff turn.

Lille’s fourth consecutive win took Rudi Garcia’s side to within five points of Montpellier, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Evian Thonon Gaillard on Tuesday.

“We knew it’d be difficult to win here,” Garcia said. “Although we couldn’t make the game safe, we put a lot of energy into defending well. By winning here, we’ve shown that we’ll be there until the end of the season.”

Olympique Lyonnais’ chances of a top-three finish are almost extinct, but they are on course to finish fourth after winning 4-1 at home to Valenciennes.

Cris put the freshly anointed French Cup winners ahead with a 69th-minute header after Lisandro Lopez’s deflected opener had been quickly canceled out by a Renaud Cohade penalty.

Lisandro made it 3-1 shortly after, before Jimmy Briand scrambled home from close range in the closing stages.

“We’ll try not to worry about the other teams and the objective is to focus on ourselves, so that we have no regrets at the end of the season,” Lyon coach Remi Garde said.

Stade Rennais slipped from fourth to fifth after losing 2-0 at Girondins de Bordeaux, while Toulouse remain seventh following a 0-0 draw at Stade Brestois 29.

Olympique de Marseille finally brought their 13-game winless run in the league to an end by winning 1-0 at home to AS Nancy-Lorraine through a 31st-minute strike from top scorer Loic Remy.

Second-from-bottom Sochaux-Montbeliard spurned the chance to climb out of the bottom three, blowing a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 at AC Ajaccio in a match that saw David Sauget and Yassin Mikari sent off for the visitors.

Christian Kinkela and Richard Socrier claimed Ajaccio’s goals to lift their side three points clear of the relegation places — a day after fellow Corsican side Sporting Cub de Bastia sealed their promotion from Ligue 2.

Elsewhere, Stade Malherbe Caen calmed their own relegation anxieties by winning 1-0 at home to Lorient courtesy of a scorching long-range shot by Thomas Heurtaux midway through the second half.

With three games of the season remaining, just five points separate Lorient in 13th place and 19th-placed Sochaux.

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