PSG held by Ajaccio
Paris Saint-Germain gave Lucas Moura his Ligue 1 debut on Friday, but it was fellow Brazilian Thiago Motta who stole the headlines by being red-carded in a lackluster 0-0 draw at home against AC Ajaccio. The result gave the big-spending Paris club a one-point lead at the top of the table having played one game more than title rivals Lyon and Marseille. On a miserable night for PSG, coach Carlo Ancelotti saw midfielder Motta sent off just before halftime for a foul on Frederic Sammaratino. Things got worse 10 minutes after the interval when defender and captain Thiago Silva went off with an injured thigh. In Friday’s other Ligue 1 match AS Saint-Etienne and Toulouse drew 2-2.
Rayo beat Bilbao
Rayo Vallecano won 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao on Friday to move into sixth spot in La Liga, level on points with fourth-placed Malaga in the Champions League qualification slots. Lass Bangoura and Piti, with a penalty, put Rayo two up in the second half and they held on despite Bilbao pulling one back through Mikel San Jose near the end and a late red card for visiting defender Alejandro Galvez. Rayo, who are in administration and operate on La Liga’s smallest budget, climbed to 31 points, the same as Real Betis in fifth and Malaga, after a fourth straight win. Last season’s Europa League and Copa del Rey finalists Bilbao were 14th with 21 points after a third consecutive defeat.
Coach demands apology
Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi has demanded a written apology from Adel Taarabt, the Queens Park Rangers midfielder, who is accused of lacking respect and making unfounded accusations. In a statement on Friday, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation mentioned a report they had received from Taoussi denouncing “the unacceptable attitude of the player who showed a lack of respect to him [Taoussi] during an exchange of text messages.” According to local media, Taoussi last month wanted to meet up with Taarabt, at that stage in the squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, in London. However, the Premier League player refused, telling him that “he didn’t want to join a squad in which there were lots of people who didn’t want to see him.” The 23-year-old was duly left off Morocco’s list of 23 players announced on Wednesday.
Brit beats disease to qualify
Scot Jamie Baker took another step on a remarkable comeback from a life-threatening blood disease yesterday by qualifying for the Australian Open. The British No. 2 beat American Donald Young 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to make the Grand Slam main draw, more than four years after contracting the potentially fatal idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. The rare blood condition affects the immune system and there were fears he would not play again, but the 26-year-old has fought back and also overcome depression to keep his career moving in the right direction. Baker contracted the illness at a training camp in the US and spent three days in intensive care. He got through the crisis, but his ranking plummeted and he revealed that he battled depression for a long time after. “I suffered quite bad depression afterwards,” said Baker, who is now ranked 246. “But there was a distinct moment two years ago when I moved on. It was at a tournament in Thailand when it happened. I came off court and felt normal again. It felt like someone had lifted a concrete building off me.”