Tue, May 14, 2013 - Page 18 News List

LIGUE 1: PSG end 19-year title drought

MIDFIELD MAESTRO:Thiago Motta was the architect of the 1-0 win against Lyon, feeding the unmarked Jeremy Menez to fire left-footed across the goalkeeper

AFP, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain’s David Beckham, left, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrate their Ligue 1 victory over Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon, France, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Paris Saint-Germain sealed their first Ligue 1 title since 1993-1994 with a 1-0 win at Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday.

Olympique de Marseille’s 2-1 win over Toulouse on Saturday, their fourth success in a row, had ensured PSG would have to keep the champagne on ice until after their own game, but former AC Milan winger Jeremy Menez scored the only goal of the game against a limp Lyon side and that proved enough to deliver the silverware.

“I am very happy, especially because it is not easy to win here,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “We showed that we deserved the title. It was a difficult season, but after December we became more solid and compact, and things went well.”

Ancelotti added that he has not discussed his future with the club’s ambitious Qatari owners.

“We have not had the time. There are still two games to play, we will respect our rivals and the championship,” he said. “I have had a great deal of confidence in the title because the players have the best individual quality.”

Lyon coach Remi Garde was gracious in defeat, particularly given his side can now no longer overtake Marseille in the race for second and direct access to the UEFA Champions League group phase.

“Congratulations to PSG, even though it’s a bit difficult to watch them celebrating their title here,” Garde said from Lyon’s Stade de Gerland. “Paris have a lot of quality, even though we were a long way from our worst match for some time.”

In a lively start both goalkeepers were called into early action, with PSG’s Nicolas Douchez clawing away a Baftembi Gomis header, before Lyon’s Anthony Lopes was equally at full stretch to palm Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s lob away from his goal.

Mouhamadou Dabo was then in the right place on the line to block a goalbound Ibrahimovic shot, while Douchez resorted to an unconventional kick to clear his lines from Yassine Benzia’s sighter from long range.

Midway through the first period, slick PSG play saw Javier Pastore slip in Menez behind the defense, but Lopes was quickly out to smoother the winger’s effort on goal.

The game seemed to be petering out into a tactical affair until Menez sparked it into life on 53 minutes.

Thiago Motta was the architect, robbing Maxime Gonalons in midfield, before playing a one-two with Ibrahimovic and then feeding the unmarked Menez to fire left-footed across Lopes.

PSG came closest to notching another when Menez raced down the left and crossed for Pastore, but the Argentine’s close-range shot was blocked by Lopes’ legs.

Lyon were matching PSG in terms of possession, but could make little headway against the best defense in the league. Even when Bakary Kone got up to meet Clement Grenier’s free-kick, he could not direct his header on target.

PSG held on for a 23rd clean sheet this season and that ensured the title was theirs.

Earlier on Sunday, OGC Nice and AS Saint-Etienne saw their hopes of participating in next season’s Champions League suffer potentially fatal blows as they lost 4-0 at Evian Thonon Gaillard and 3-1 at Lorient respectively.

OGC Nice’s collapse against relegation-threatened opponents was particularly alarming, but aided in no small part by Saber Khelifa’s incredible long-range lob from his own half.

Khelifa scored another to add to strikes from Kevin Berigaud and Mohammed Rabiu.

Second-half goals from Kevin Monnet-Paquet, Fabien Robert and Yann Jouffre provided the perfect tonic for Christian Gourcuff’s Lorient following their chastening 4-0 midweek defeat at Evian in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France.

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