Mon, Mar 06, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Cavani drags PSG past a stubborn Nancy

AFP, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani celebrates after he scored a penalty on Saturday against Nancy at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

Photo: Reuters

Edinson Cavani converted a late penalty for his league-leading 27th goal of the season as Paris Saint-Germain labored to a 1-0 win over strugglers AS Nancy-Lorraine on Saturday.

PSG endured a frustrating afternoon, despite their domination at the Parc des Princes and survived a huge scare when Nancy substitute Alexis Busin’s 75th-minute shot struck both posts.

However, the hosts won a penalty after Serge Aurier was fouled by Nancy goalkeeper Sergey Chernik, leaving Cavani to score the only goal 10 minutes from time as PSG moved back level on points with leaders AS Monaco.

“It’s difficult to play against these teams that defend a lot and give you so little space,” Cavani told TV station Canal+, with PSG turning their focus to defending their 4-0 lead against Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

“The important thing is to win,” Cavani added.

SERIEA

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Napoli’s Dries Mertens hit a brace in a thrilling 2-1 win at the Stadio Olimpico that prompted AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti to virtually concede the Serie A title race to Juventus on Saturday.

“We have to be realistic. For us it’s now almost impossible to catch Juventus,” Spalletti said after a morale-crushing defeat.

Belgium midfielder Mertens was given the nod ahead of striker Arkadiusz Milik, despite the Poland star’s recent return from a five-month injury lay-off.

Manager Maurizio Sarri’s intuition to keep deploying the Belgian midfielder as his main striker was proved right during an end-to-end thrill-fest that saw Napoli soak up long spells of pressure before seeing Mertens punish Roma’s leaky defense.

Napoli took a 1-0 lead into halftime at the Stadio Olimpico after Mertens struck against the run of play to flick the ball over onrushing Wojciech Szczesny on 26 minutes.

Mertens completed his brace, taking his league tally for the season to 18 goals, five minutes into the second half with another cool finish following Lorenzo Insigne’s inswinger toward the back post.

When Kevin Strootman reduced the arrears on 89 minutes it sparked a dramatic late fightback from Roma that saw Pepe Reina acrobatically palm Diego Perotti’s deflected drive off the crossbar before clearing with his leg.

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