Paris Saint-Germain suffered another shock away defeat on Saturday, going down 1-0 to struggling Stade de Reims, despite the home side having to play with 10 men for the final half an hour.
Polish midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak was the star for the hosts, netting the all-important goal just six minutes after Christopher Glombard had been sent off.
The introduction of David Beckham for the final 26 minutes could not prevent the leaders slipping to their fifth Ligue 1 defeat this season and their second in three outings following a 3-2 reverse at Sochaux-Montbeliard last month.
“It’s not the same problem [as it was against Sochaux], it’s a different match. At Sochaux it was an attitude problem in particular. Here, we had problems playing because the pitch wasn’t good,” PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti said. “It’s not a problem of concentration. We tried to play with the ball on the ground, but the pitch wasn’t good. I can’t be angry. The team is doing good work, we are still top of Ligue 1. Today, it was a technical problem, not a problem with attitude.”
Ancelotti’s side remain three points clear at the top of the table, but Olympique Lyonnais could join them at the summit by beating Stade Brestois 29 in Brittany yesterday.
PSG made the short trip to Champagne country fresh from beating bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille twice in the previous week, once in the league and once in the round-of-16 of the Coupe de France.
Ancelotti made seven changes to his team from the Cup tie, with Javier Pastore, Lucas and Ezequiel Lavezzi among those returning, along with the suspension-free Marco Verratti.
His return in central midfield meant that Beckham was back on the bench at kickoff at a packed Stade Auguste Delaune.
Even with one eye on the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie against Valencia on Wednesday, PSG should have been strong enough to see off the challenge of a Reims side with just one win in their previous 19 matches in all competitions.
The fact that 22-goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic had scored as many times in Ligue 1 this season as Reims indicated the size of task awaiting the hosts.
AS Saint-Etienne strengthened their case for Champions League soccer next season with a 4-0 mauling of 10-man fellow European hopefuls OGC Nice.
A double salvo from Brandao was supplemented by a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty and a goal from Yohan Mollo, while Valentin Eysseric was shown a first-half red card for a dangerous lunge on Jeremy Clement.
The result propelled Les Verts to third in the table.
In other matches, SC Bastia defeated AC Ajaccio 1-0, AS Nancy-Lorraine won 2-1 at Sochaux, Lorient and Valenciennes drew 1-1, while the match between Toulouse and Evian Thonon Gaillard finished goalless.