x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

PSG, down a man, beat Marseille and move into table-topping tie with Monaco

Goals from Maxwell and Zlatan Ibrahimovic overcome Thiago Matta red card, give Parisians 21 points to equal AS Monaco.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted on a 66th-minute penalty to put PSG over Marseille on Sunday. Bertrand Langlois / AFP
Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted on a 66th-minute penalty to put PSG over Marseille on Sunday. Bertrand Langlois / AFP

Paris Saint-Germain hit back from a goal down and being reduced to 10 men to beat bitter rivals Marseille 2-1 on Sunday and move onto the shoulders of Ligue 1 leaders Monaco.

The defending champions trailed to a first-half penalty scored by Ghana’s Andre Ayew.

They also had Thiago Motta red-carded for a foul which led to the spot-kick.

But Maxwell levelled on the stroke of half-time before skipper Zlatan Ibrahimovic slotted home a second-half penalty to silence the Stade Velodrome crowd and preserve PSG’s unbeaten start to the season.

“Despite going down to 10 men and falling behind, my team always believed they could come back,” said PSG coach Laurent Blanc.

“We knew we could win and once we scored the second goal we showed our unity and courage.”

PSG have 21 points but trail Monaco on goal difference while Marseille drop to fourth behind Lille on goal difference, four points off the lead.

Marseille coach Elie Baup believes his team were naive.

“We are a young side and are trying to progress. We tried to give it all but our opponents know how to manage these situations,” said Baup.

Marseille had lost just one of their last nine home meetings with PSG and they were the better side for most of the opening period.

PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu was called upon in the 20th minute to pull off a fine double save to deny Jordan Ayew, playing instead of Andre-Pierre Gignac, and the lively Mathieu Valbuena.

Marseille were in front in controversial circumstances just after the half-hour mark when Motta was penalised for bringing down Valbuena in the area.

The clumsy challenge earned Motta a red card while in the lengthy protest that followed midfielder Marco Verratti was booked.

Motta’s dismissal was the 18th red card handed out by referee Clement Turpin in the official’s last 26 matches.

Andre Ayew kept his cool in the mayhem to score from the penalty spot.

But PSG were level on the stroke of half-time with Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda at fault.

Full-back Gregory van der Wiel crossed from the right and the ball fell perfectly for Maxwell to beat a flailing, stranded Mandanda with a strong header.

Just after the hour, Dmitri Payet unleashed a powerful, swerving drive that Sirigu flapped away as Marseille looked to make their one-man advantage count.

But it was PSG who were celebrating in the 66th minute when they were awarded a penalty for Andre Ayew’s needless challenge on Marquinhos who was heading away from the danger zone.

Up stepped Ibrahimovic to calmly steer home the penalty for his third goal of the Ligue 1 campaign.

Sunday’s win also extended PSG’s overall unbeaten record to 20 games in Ligue 1, a run stretching back to a 1-0 loss at Reims on March 2.

Beleaguered Lyon’s desperate form continued as the former Ligue 1 giants fell 5-1 at Montpellier.

Remi Garde’s side have won just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions.

Club president Jean-Michel Aulas admitted that the team are in “crisis”.

Montpellier could largely thank the double act of strikers Victor Hugo Montano and Remy Cabella for their success.

Colombian striker Montano scored his third goal of the season after 16 minutes and just before the break Anthony Mounier added a second with a header.

Lyon reduced the deficit just after the break when Alexandre Lacazette found the net.

Cabella converted a penalty after 59 minutes and scored a second seven minutes later. He then set up Montano (68) for his second.

Lyon, who won the last of their seven-consecutive titles in 2008, are four points above the drop zone.

Monaco had gone three points clear at the top on Saturday after a late Lucas Ocampos winner gave them a 2-1 victory over Saint-Etienne.