Tue, Oct 08, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Ten-man PSG fight back to keep pace with AS Monaco

AP, PARIS

Ten-man Paris Saint-Germain rallied past Olympique de Marseille 2-1 on Sunday in a match featuring two controversial penalties to go level on points with leaders AS Monaco in Ligue 1.

PSG midfielder Thiago Motta was sent off in the 30th minute for kicking Mathieu Valbuena while attempting to clear the ball and Marseille winger Andre Ayew converted the subsequent penalty.

However, Maxwell beat Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to the ball on the stroke of halftime to head in a cross from Gregory van der Wiel for the equalizer. Zlatan Ibrahimovic then scored the winner from the penalty spot by sending Mandanda the wrong way in the 65th minute after Andre Ayew had tripped PSG defender Marquinhos.

“Mental toughness made the difference tonight,” PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said. “There’s quality in our team, but there’s a soul, too.”

Meanwhile, Olympique Lyonnais’ poor start to the season continued with a 5-1 loss at Montpellier Herault and Girondins de Bordeaux moved three points clear of the relegation zone by thrashing Sochaux-Montbeliard 4-1.

Marseille were the most threatening side in the first half as PSG struggled to create chances.

Salvatore Sirigu tipped a low free-kick by Valbuena around the post in the 12th minute. The PSG goalkeeper then saved a volley from Jordan Ayew in the 21st and denied Valbuena’s effort from the rebound.

Thiago Motta put his team in trouble while chesting a cross. The ball got away from him, Valbuena intercepted it and got kicked in the foot by the PSG midfielder.

Andre Ayew fired the ball into the roof of the net for the opener in the 34th minute.

That goal seemed to wake up the PSG players and Mandanda was forced to punch away a volley from Ibrahimovic in the 41st minute.

The Marseille goalkeeper came off his line late and could not prevent Maxwell from leveling just before the break.

The hosts failed to capitalize on their numerical superiority in the second half, despite a swerving shot from Marseille winger Dimitri Payet that was parried by Sirigu in the 63rd minute.

Two minutes later, Mandanda palmed away a header from PSG defender Alex and Andre Ayew’s poor judgement gave PSG an opportunity to take the lead.

“It’s always the same story,” Valbuena said. “There’s not much missing, but in the end we lose. It simply means we’re not a big team.”

In Montpellier, Victor Hugo Montano opened the scoring for the hosts in the 17th minute and Anthony Mounier doubled the lead by heading home a corner from Remy Cabella on the stroke of halftime.

Alexandre Lacazette pulled one back for Lyon with a long-range strike in the 48th minute, but Remy Cabella converted a penalty in the 60th to make it 3-1 after Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes had brought Montano down.

Cabella slipped the ball past Lopes in the 66th minute and Montano headed in Cabella’s cross in the 68th to round off the scoring.

Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons was sent off in the 82nd minute after picking up a second yellow card.

Montpellier snapped a five-game winless streak to climb to eighth place.

Lyon have been contenders for a UEFA Champions League spot in recent seasons, but their poor start year leaves them 10 points behind league leaders Monaco after nine games.

“The second half was a string of unbelievable and unforgivable mistakes,” Lyon coach Remi Garde said.

Lyon have won only one of their past 11 matches in all competitions.

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