Tue, Sep 24, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Monaco hold champions in Paris, stay top

AFP, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain’s Zoumana Camara, center, vies for the ball with AS Monaco’s Radamel Falcao, right, in their Ligue 1 match in Paris, France, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

AS Monaco came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with defending French champions Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday to keep hold of top spot in Ligue 1.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic volleyed PSG into an early lead in the French capital, but Monaco striker Radamel Falcao bundled in an equalizer for the visitors as the first clash between the league’s two financial heavyweights finished level.

The draw kept Monaco in first place on 14 points, two ahead of PSG, who moved into second, ahead of AS Saint-Etienne on goal-difference.

“It was a good match. Paris played well, but so did we,” Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said. “We tried to win right up until the end and I’m very satisfied. I have no regrets. I know that Paris have a lot of quality and more experience than our players, so I’m happy.”

PSG coach Laurent Blanc made one change to the side that beat Olympiakos 4-1 last week in the UEFA Champions League, with Argentine winger Ezequiel Lavezzi replacing Lucas Moura on the left side of an attacking trio.

Ranieri kept faith with the team that beat Lorient 1-0 the previous weekend as Mounir Obbadi continued alongside Geoffrey Kondogbia in central midfield, with Jeremy Toulalan still out injured.

Ibrahimovic had endured a slow start to the season with just one goal prior to Sunday, but last year’s leading scorer in Ligue 1 made an immediate impact at the Parc des Princes as he gave PSG a fifth-minute lead.

Thiago Silva’s raking downfield ball picked out the run of leftback Maxwell, who crossed for Ibrahimovic to volley past Danijel Subasic from close range.

The hosts were dealt a blow after quarter of an hour, though, when Silva limped off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Zoumana Camara.

Falcao then hauled Monaco level on 20 minutes as he threw himself at Joao Moutinho’s teasing cross into the box, the Colombian bravely putting his body on the line to head beyond Salvatore Sirigu.

Monaco’s Yannick Ferreira Carrasco fired just over with a volley shortly after, while Edinson Cavani dragged a shot wide of the far post after clever interplay between himself and Ibrahimovic.

The Swede then wasted a glorious chance to add to his tally and restore PSG’s advantage when he headed over after being left completely unmarked as Lavezzi swung in a dangerous free-kick.

Ibrahimovic was again guilty of botching another opening just moments later.

Played through by Marco Verratti, the striker elected to cut back onto his right foot and, rather than shooting, over hit a chip toward the far post as he tried to pick out an advancing Lavezzi.

There was further frustration for Ibrahimovic after the interval when he flicked a low cross from Lavezzi the wrong side of the post.

Ferreira Carrasco volleyed wide when well placed, while substitute James Rodriguez and Layvin Kurzawa took turns to test Sirigu from distance, but the contest began to peter out as the second half wore on.

However, Cavani twice very nearly snatched all three points for PSG in stoppage-time.

The Uruguayan was firstly denied by a fantastic sliding intervention from Andrea Raggi after he chested down Blaise Matuidi’s lofted pass and shot on the turn, before he sent a header narrowly wide of the near post as Monaco withstood a late bombardment.

“We played a very good match, unfortunately we weren’t able to get that decisive goal,” PSG midfielder Matuidi said.

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