Sun, Apr 16, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Di Maria leads Paris Saint-Germain to win at Angers

AFP, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria, left, challenges Angers SCO’s Ismael Traore for control of the ball in their Ligue 1 match in Angers, France, on Friday.

Photo: AP

Angel Di Maria on Friday scored a brace to keep Paris Saint-Germain hot on Ligue 1 leaders AS Monaco’s heels with a 2-0 win at Angers SCO.

The Argentina international showed his class with one sublime and another clinical finish as PSG moved level on points at the top of the table.

“We are happy because it was a difficult match at Angers,” PSG coach Unai Emery said. “We’re content with three points. We were well-prepared, concentrated and worked well.”

Monaco were yesterday to have a chance to reclaim their three-point advantage when hosting relegation-threatened Dijon FCO, but with one eye on next week’s UEFA Champions League second-leg quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund, they could be vulnerable.

Additionally, Monaco had one less day to prepare for yesterday’s game after their first leg in Germany — which the principality outfit won 3-2 — was postponed 24 hours after a triple bomb blast damaged the home side’s team bus and left Spanish defender Marc Bartra with a broken wrist.

How much that incident has affected Monaco’s already weary players remains to be seen, while PSG — knocked out of the Champions League in dramatic circumstances in the previous round, when Barcelona came back from a 4-0 first-leg deficit to triumph 6-5 on aggregate — have only domestic matters to concentrate on now.

Di Maria’s first goal was a rare bright spark in an otherwise tight first half, but there was no doubting the quality of the Argentine’s placement as he bent a sumptuous free-kick from 25 yards over the defensive wall and beyond the despairing reach of Alexandre Letellier in the Angers goal on 28 minutes.

The home side had the ball in the net on 39 minutes through captain Cheikh Ndoye, but it was controversially disallowed for a foul by Famara Diedhiou on Serge Aurier when TV replays proved inconclusive as to which of the two was the true offender as they wrestled in the area.

Ndoye came close again 18 minutes from time, when his powerful header appeared destined for the top corner until goalkeeper Kevin Trapp acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar.

For a team in mid-table safety, Angers played with real purpose, but lacked the quality to break down a stubborn away defense.

Six minutes form time, PSG struck with rapier speed and efficiency on a counterattack as Lucas Moura fed Di Maria to slot home his second at the near post, although Letellier’s positioning was highly questionable.

LA LIGA

AP, BILBAO, Spain

Athletic Bilbao on Friday routed UD Las Palmas 5-1 in La Liga to move into sixth place and control of a UEFA Europa League berth.

Iker Muniain and Aritz Aduriz scored twice each.

“We were ambitious. That’s one of the marks of identity of this team,” Muniain said.

Mikel San Jose opened the scoring early at the Estadio San Mames, and two minutes later Muniain bent a free-kick around the side of the barrier and inside the near post.

Pedro Bigas quickly responded with a header, but Aritz scored from a counterattack led by Inaki Williams to make it 3-1 in the 18th minute.

Bilbao could have scored on several occasions before Muniain fired in a long volley in the 58th.

A minute later, Aduriz got his second when Bilbao’s pressure caused Las Palmas to lose the ball near their area, taking the striker’s tally to 14 league goals in the season.

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