Mon, Apr 07, 2014 - Page 19 News List

PSG bolstered by Reims win ahead of Chelsea battle

AFP, PARIS

Toulouse defender Serge Aurier, center, attempts a bicycle-kick as LOSC Lille Metropole midfielder Jonathan Delaplace, left, and a teammate look on in their Ligue 1 match on Saturday at the Stade Municipal Toulouse in France.

Photo: AFP

Runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain tuned up for their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea tomorrow with a morale-boosting 3-0 home win over Stade de Reims on Saturday.

Laurent Blanc’s in-form side carry a 3-1 advantage to Stamford Bridge against Jose Mourinho’s men and maximum points at a sunbathed Parc des Princes guaranteed them Champions League soccer next season.

PSG were without injured top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Saturday, who will miss the London tie, but Edinson Cavani picked up the slack with a 43rd minute opener before the visitors collapsed after the break.

French-born Algerian international Aissa Mandi was the unfortunate victim of two own-goals, the first three minutes after the restart and a second with time running out.

The three points not only extend PSG’s Ligue lead to 12 points over second-placed AS Monaco, who were to host Nantes yesterday, but also lifted them an insurmountable 19 points above third-placed LOSC Lille Metropole, who have six matches left.

With domestic duties well under control, Blanc can now concentrate on the showdown against the Blues as PSG chase a place in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since their solitary appearance back in 1995.

A second straight Ligue title under Qatari ownership appears assured and the capital club are also well on track to better Olympie Lyonnais’ record of 84 points achieved in the 2005-2006 season.

“We are going to be champions, but we’re not there yet,” Blanc said.

Elsewhere in Ligue 1 on Saturday, third-placed Lille extended their lead over idling AS Saint-Etienne to six points as they chalked up a key 2-1 win at Toulouse despite finishing the match with nine men.

Nolan Roux put the les Dogues in front after 26 minutes before Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou scored his second goal in as many weeks, this time from the penalty spot just before halftime.

The game was a bitter affair, with Franck Beira and Pape Ndiaye Souare sent off with 22 minutes left following a row, but despite Serge Aurier pulling a late goal back for the home side, Lille held on for the win.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Daniel Weiss salvaged a point for lowly Evian Thonon Gaillard with a 70th-minute equalizer at Lorient to end the game 1-1, Montpellier Herault edged En Avant de Guingamp 2-1, relegation-threatened Sochaux-Montbeliard threw away two crucial points by squandering a 2-0 lead to draw SC Bastia 2-2, which was the also the result of Girondins de Bordeaux’s clash with Stade Rennais.

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