Ibra return helps PSG blank l’OM

Reuters, PARIS

Tue, Nov 11, 2014 - Page 19

Goals from Lucas and Edinson Cavani and the return of talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped Paris Saint-Germain beat Ligue 1 leaders Olympique de Marseille 2-0 on Sunday, a victory that closed the gap in between the two sides.

PSG, who were boosted by the return of Sweden forward Ibrahimovic from a heel injury he sustained in late September, remain second in the standings with 27 points from 13 games, while Marseille have 28 points from 13.

The Parisians struggled early on, with l’OM pressing high up and forcing their archrivals into a string of poor passes and late tackles.

Andre-Pierre Gignac hit the upright with a bullet header from a corner in the fifth minute and two minutes later, Romain Alessandrini whisked a half-volley passed the post after good work from Benjamin Mendy on the right.

“I want to complement Marseille because they were well organized and defended well,” Brazil international Maxwell said in a pitchside interview. “It counts for us because we were four points behind so it was important to win.”

As the first half wore on, PSG, who are now unbeaten in their past 18 matches, began to get ahold of the game as Marseille lost some intensity and the capital club finally broke the deadlock when captain Thiago Silva surged forward and fed Cavani, who set free Ezequiel Lavezzi to cross for Lucas to tap home after 37 minutes.

Gignac should have leveled just after halftime after stealing the ball off Silva, but with just the goalkeeper to beat, he opted for a complicated chip.

From then on, PSG were mostly in control and once Giannelli Imbula was sent off with just more than 10 minutes left, Marseille’s hopes of turning the game round were over.

Cavani sealed the win with his fifth goal in five games after a pinpoint cross from right back Serge Aurier, who had been released by 65th-minute substitute Ibrahimovic.

“We’re disappointed. We lost because we lacked realism,” Marseille captain Steve Mandanda said.

In the earlier games, Olympique Lyonnais moved into third one point behind PSG after a 3-1 win over En Avant de Guingamp with two goals from Nabil Fekir and Alexandre Lacazette scoring his 11th of the campaign to become Ligue 1’s top scorer.

In other league play, AS Monaco continued their patchy start to the season drawing 1-1 with sixth-placed AS Saint Etienne despite taking the lead earlier and Stade de Reims blanked LOSC Lille Metropole 2-0.