Paris Saint-Germain took over at the top of Ligue 1 and loaded the pressure on former leaders Montpellier Herault by storming back from two goals down to win 4-3 at Valenciennes on Sunday.
After falling 2-0 behind inside 11 minutes, PSG hit back through Nene, Maxwell, Blaise Matuidi and Jeremy Menez, and then survived a late scare sparked by a Renaud Cohade free-kick to edge ahead of Montpellier on goals scored.
Montpellier traveled to fifth-placed Stade Rennais yesterday, before a potentially decisive home game with reigning champions LOSC Lille Metropole at the weekend, when PSG tackle Stade Rennais at home.
“It was a bizarre match,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “We were terrible at the start. Then we got two goals back and played very well. The forwards worked together. The objective is to win every match until the end of the season. Tonight, I’m very happy with the performances of all my players. Every match is difficult — our match against Rennes, the last game against Lorient. We’re happy to be back in first place, maybe just for one night.”
Vincent Aboubakar broke the deadlock in the eighth minute at Valenciennes’ Stade du Hainaut, chesting down a high ball and dispatching a low shot that bobbled into the PSG net via a deflection off Alex.
The Cameroonian striker was also at the origin of the hosts’ second goal three minutes later, firing in a low shot that PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu could only parry as far as a grateful Remi Gomis.
PSG’s title hopes appeared to be in serious jeopardy, but they hit back four minutes later when Nene registered his 18th league goal of the season from Menez’s intelligent dinked pass.
Maxwell and Blaise Matuidi then chose opportune moments to claim their first goals for the club, allowing PSG to go in 3-2 up at the break.
Brazilian leftback Maxwell equalized from a narrow angle in the 40th minute after running on to Nene’s pass and on the stroke of halftime Matuidi slid in to touch Javier Pastore’s through-ball past Nicolas Penneteau to put PSG ahead.
Nene teed up Menez for PSG’s fourth in the 58th minute, but any thoughts of a comfortable victory were erased in the 80th minute when Cohade swept a long-range free-kick into Sirigu’s top-right corner to set the visitors’ nerves on edge.
Earlier, Olympique Lyonnais’ faint hopes of Champions League qualification were all but extinguished when they were held to a 1-1 draw by relegation-threatened Stade Brestois 29 at the Stade de Gerland.
Victory would have taken Lyon to within six points of third-placed Lille with three games remaining, but they are now eight points behind the champions and appear destined for a fourth-place finish at best.
Asked if third place was now beyond his side’s reach, Lyon coach Remi Garde said: “Yes. I think that now, we have to do everything to hold on to fourth place.”
Meanwhile, Brest climbed out of the relegation zone at the expense of AJ Auxerre, although they had played a game more than Auxerre and second-bottom Dijon FCO, who were both just a point behind.
Yoann Gourcuff put Lyon ahead with a 37th-minute diving header to register only his second goal of the season, but Gregory Lorenzi slammed home from close range following a left-wing corner to bring Brest level 15 minutes from time.
In the day’s other afternoon kickoff, AC Ajaccio let slip a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 at fellow promoted side Evian Thonon Gaillard, which left the Corsican outfit three points above the relegation places.