PSG ease past Nice to close on title


Tue, Apr 23, 2013 - Page 18

Paris Saint-Germain moved another step closer to claiming their first Ligue 1 crown in 19 years with a commanding 3-0 victory over 10-man OGC Nice on Sunday. Jeremy Menez struck a 10th-minute opener at Parc des Princes, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted his league-leading 27th goal from the penalty spot following goalkeeper David Ospina’s dismissal, before Clement Chantome added a late third to leave Carlo Ancelotti’s side needing just seven points from their final five matches.

“I’m very happy tonight. We’re nine points ahead, that means the title is close,” Ancelotti said.

“The attitude was very good tonight. I think everyone was annoyed after the [defeat to Evian],” the Italian added, referring to PSG’s midweek French Cup quarter-final exit.

Olympique de Marseille’s 1-0 win at home to lowly Stade Brestois 29 on Saturday had seen the gap at the top temporarily reduced to six points, but the capital club put Wednesday’s disappointment at Evian Thonon Gaillard behind them to record their fifth win in six league matches.

Ibrahimovic almost gave PSG the lead inside five minutes only for his fierce effort to rattle the post after Nemanja Pejcinovic had failed to cut out Javier Pastore’s clipped through ball.

However, the hosts did not have to wait long to break the deadlock as Ibrahimovic picked out Pastore at the far post with the Argentine managing to maintain control, despite a despairing dive from Ospina before laying the ball on for Menez to stab home from 6m.

Only a sharp reflex save from Ospina denied Ezequiel Lavezzi a second shortly after, but the Colombian’s evening was to come to an abrupt end just past the hour as he was shown a straight red for scything down Lavezzi inside the area.

A loose touch from Ospina following a Didier Digard back pass allowed the Argentine to nip in and steal the ball before he was sent tumbling by the Nice ’keeper.

Ibrahimovic calmly drilled the resulting penalty past substitute custodian Joris Delle to put PSG 2-0 ahead before Ospina’s replacement made a fine low block to deny the Swede from adding to his tally.

Delle was helpless as the hosts netted a third two minutes from time though as Ibrahimovic exchanged passes with Blaise Matuidi, before squaring for Chantome to guide into an empty net.

Earlier, LOSC Lille Metropole climbed to fourth after a dramatic 2-1 victory at SC Bastia. Wahbi Khazri put the Corsicans ahead just after the break, but a stunning Lucas Digne strike hauled the visitors level five minutes from the end, before Marko Basa netted a stoppage-time winner to hand a resurgent Lille their eighth win in 10 outings.

AS Nancy-Lorraine moved out of the relegation zone for the first time since September with a 3-1 home win over fellow strugglers Evian Thonon Gaillard, while Sochaux-Montbeliard slid into the bottom three after twice conceding the lead in a 2-2 draw against visiting Girondins de Bordeaux.

Jeremie Aliadiere was again the hero for Lorient as the Brittany club followed up Tuesday’s French Cup quarter-final victory over AS Saint-Etienne with a 1-0 triumph at Toulouse, while Valenciennes halted their winless streak at eight games after beating Stade de Reims 1-0.

On Saturday, in-form Marseille stretched their unbeaten run to seven games and climbed back into second place, two points ahead of Olympique Lyonnais, after beating relegation-threatened Brest at the Stade Velodrome.

A fine Benoit Cheyrou free-kick just before halftime gave Elie Baup’s side all three points thanks to their 11th 1-0 victory of the campaign as they extended their run of clean sheets to six matches.

Meanwhile, Lyon recorded a dramatic 2-1 win at out-going champions Montpellier Herault on Friday, with Clement Grenier scoring a marvelous stoppage-time winner after Younes Belhanda had canceled out Lisandro Lopez’s first-half opener for Remi Garde’s side.