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Becks makes winning start for PSG

Ligue 1 > Match Reports
24/02/2013

David Beckham's Paris Saint-Germain debut ended with a win as PSG took Le Classique 2-0 on Sunday, though Olympique de Marseille were unfortunate to leave the Parc des Princes empty-handed.

Logo Paris Saint-Germain Paris Saint-Germain 2 - 0 Olympique de Marseille

Beckham's arrival 15 minutes from time was greeted with a massive roar of approval from the Parc des Princes crowd,  but the greatest veneration should have been reserved for Salvatore Sirigu as the Italian international goalkeeper produced a string of top-class saves to ensure his team held on to the 11th-minute lead afforded them by the unfortunate Nicolas Nkoulou's own-goal before Zlatan Ibrahimovic added a second in the first minute of added time. PSG's win takes them three points clear of second-placed Olympique Lyonnais with OM, who return to the Parc des Princes for Wednesday's French Cup tie between the pair, eight points back in third.

If the evening needed any more glamour with Mrs. Beckham among the dignataries in the stands, it was provided by Brazilian legend Ronaldo, who gave the ceremonial kick-off before hostilities commenced. PSG very nearly drew first blood within two minutes when Ibrahimovic impudently flicked the ball on to Ezequiel Lavezzi in full flight, but though the Argentine beat Steve Mandanda, OM were saved by the woodwork as the ball ricocheted off a post.

With the visitors struggling to get themselves into the game, PSG threatened, but when they went in front, it still surprised, though it was the manner rather than the fact which raised eyebrows. Lucas' shot appeared to be going wide but struck Joey Barton and then Nkoulou, directing the ball beyond an off-balance Mandanda.

OM had scored in their previous 13 meetings with their rivals from the capital, and came close to extending that streak before the break. They would have been level - and perhaps even in front - but for Sirigu. The Italian goalkeeper has more than once shown his worth since his unheralded arrival from Palermo in summer 2011, and added a pair of fine saves to embellish his highlight reel and keep his team in front at the interval.

Sirigu saves

First, Foued Kadir - after skipping somewhat fortuitously past Maxwell - tested Sirigu's reflexes before Mathieu Valbuena sent a long-range free-kick skidding goalwards. Sirigu's full-length stop was made all the better by the touch the ball took off the lunging Marco Verratti as it sped towards the net. Within seconds of the re-start, Sirigu was very nearly made redundant when his defence failed to clear a left-wing cross, and Valbuena smashed a shot across the face of goal - to the French international's disappointment, the ball flew wide of the far post.

Despite the stakes, the game was open, and both sides came close to adding to the scoreline within a minute early in the second half. Released by Javier Pastore, a low ball into the box from Lavezzi was almost touched in by his Argentine compatriot before it was scrambled clear by OM, who then saw Valbuena release André-Pierre Gignac with a measured pass. The French international striker had never scored at the Parc des Princes, but would have ended that barren streak had Sirigu - racing out of his goal - not got the slightest of touches with his left forearm to divert the OM man's lofted effort wide of the far post.

Disappointed, but clearly unbowed, Gignac then brilliantly improvised a shot on goal, flipping up to hook a high ball over his shoulder, but again found Sirigu equal to the task, shooting up a hand to send the ball spinning to safety over the bar. A looping header from André Ayew looked as if it would finally end Sirigu's resistance, but he somehow managed to turn the Ghanaian's effort away to keep Carlo Ancelotti's men ahead.

Only in the dying seconds did the hosts pull away. Freed by a Beckham pass, substitute Jérémy Ménez worked space to pull the ball back from the by-line, and Ibrahimovic held off Lucas Mendes to deflect the ball into the far corner for his 22nd Ligue 1 goal of the campaign and clinch victory for PSG in the 81st league meeting between these two sides.

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