Nine-man Paris Saint-Germain moved to the brink of their first Ligue 1 title in 19 years with a gritty 1-0 victory over relegation-threatened Evian Thonon Gaillard on Sunday as they exacted revenge for their Coupe de France quarter-final exit.
Javier Pastore scored the game’s only goal five minutes after halftime in Annecy as PSG racked up a fifth successive win, despite the late dismissals of Marco Verratti and David Beckham, to move nine points clear of Olympique de Marseille with just four games remaining.
Owing to a far superior goal-difference, PSG can effectively wrap up the Ligue 1 crown at home to Valenciennes at the weekend for what would be their first championship since 1993-1994, while Evian stay out of the bottom three on the same basis.
A dour first half at the Parc des Sports presented few chances for either side, with the legs of Evian goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait preventing Zlatan Ibrahimovic from putting the visitors ahead, while Saber Khlifa had Salvatore Sirigu at full stretch as his fizzing drive whistled over the crossbar.
However, PSG made what proved to be the decisive breakthrough five minutes after the interval when Christophe Jallet played a cleverly disguised square ball for Pastore to clip beyond Laquait and into the far corner for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Ibrahimovic should have doubled the lead shortly after when Verratti’s stabbed effort bounced back off the bar, only for the Swede to lash over with the goal at his mercy, while Ezequiel Lavezzi was guilty of an equally glaring miss as his hesitancy allowed Cedric Mongongu to make a vital block after he had rounded Laquait.
Evian’s quest for an equalizer saw Sirigu palm away a Daniel Wass free-kick, before the Italian made an excellent low save to deny Khlifa as PSG recorded a fifth straight clean sheet.
The victory was marred, though, by Verratti’s dismissal on 82 minutes for a second bookable offense, a red card that saw the Italian draw the ire of Ancelotti as he trudged off the pitch, before Beckham was harshly issued his marching orders in stoppage-time for a foul on Youssef Adnane.
The game then descended into further chaos after the final whistle when Khlifa and Sirigu were both shown red after a melee broke out between the sides.
Earlier, Olympique Lyonnais maintained their two-point advantage over fourth-placed AS Saint-Etienne as they fought out a 1-1 draw in a typically hotly contested derby.
Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff grabbed a share of the spoils with the equalizer in the 55th minute in what was as usual a high-voltage affair, with the game being held up for a number of minutes as both sets of supporters fought with each other.
Kurt Zouma had given the recently crowned Coupe de la Ligue winners the lead in the 29th minute and but for glaring misses by strike duo Brandao and Gabon international Pierre Emerick Aubameyang they would have run out convincing winners.
Elsewhere, OGC Nice kept themselves firmly in contention for European soccer next season with a 3-1 victory over beleaguered ES Troyes AC.
Mohamed Yattara struck first for visiting Troyes, but Nice replied through Renato Civelli, before Dario Cvitanich put the hosts in front on the stroke of halftime with his 15th goal of the campaign.
Luigi Bruins added some insurance with a third 13 minutes from time as Nice moved level with fifth-placed LOSC Lille Metropole and one point shy of Saint-Etienne, while defeat for Troyes left them bottom, six points from safety with just four games remaining.