Lille under pressure as PSG break points record
By S. Willis
Lille's grip on third and Champions League football in under threat after Saturday's 3-1 home loss to Paris Saint-Germain, who broke the Ligue 1 points record while equalling those for total and away wins in a single season.
LOSC Lille 1 - 3 Paris Saint-Germain
Lille may have occupied third place since Week 17, but their grip on a qualifying berth for next season's Champions League is now in question after their 3-1 loss at home to Paris Saint-Germain - just their third home defeat of the season - allowed fourth-placed Saint-Etienne to close to two points ahead of the final round of matches.
Lille made an excellent start to the match, keeping PSG on the back foot for most of the first half but the tide turned when France playmaker Marvin Martin received a red card for a dangerous tackle that ended Yohan Cabye's match (36'). PSG opened the scoring soon after as Brazilian stopper Marquinhos - playing at right-back - headed home (41'), with Lucas Moura (65') and substitute Blaise Matuidi widening the scoreline to make Jonathan Delaplace's 90th-minute strike a mere consolation.
Counter-attacks pay off
After 'celebrating' their title win with a 2-1 loss to Rennes on Wednesday, Paris were looking to break the Ligue 1 record for total points won in a season, and while Laurent Blanc's men managed to best Lyon's benchmark of 84 (season 2005-06), it wasn't with their trademark domination.
The visitors seemed content to play on the counter, relying on the mobility of their forwards, and even though fit-again Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn't enjoy one of his best night in front of goal, he did manage a superb pass for Lucas, setting the Brazilian loose on the edge of the area for Marquinhos to head home after Vincent Enyeama had parried Lucas' initial shot (41').
Enyeama had only just produced a brilliant save to deny Cabaye (34') before the France international was stretchered off, and his fighting spirit was contagious as Lille did their best to give their fans a show in the final home game of the season - out-shooting PSG 20 shots to nine - despite being down to ten men for the final hour.
The home side dominated the chances early in the second half, with Idrissa Gueye's close-range shot stopped by Salvatore Sirigu before his follow-up effort blazed over (51'). Marko Basa's aerial prowess conjured up two chances from corners in quick succession (57', 58') - with another from a free-kick minutes later (62') - and then Sirigu showed incredible reflexes to prevent Ibrahimovic turning the ball into his own net as he mis-hit a clearance from yet another corner (63').
Lucas shines as PSG roll on
However, just as Lille looked most dangerous, PSG hit back with a counter-attack led by Javier Pastore, who spotted Lucas run down the right and fed the Brazilian for a neat angled finish to claim just the fourth Ligue 1 goal of his two seasons at the club so far (65').
It couldn't have come at a worse time for ten-man Lille, but René Girard's men kept fighting, with Salomon Kalou drawing a strong diving save from Sirigu with an angled header from ten metres out (78'), but again the visitors made Lille pay for their ventures forward as the excellent Lucas got the better of Basa and Simon Kjaer before playing Matuidi through for a straight-forward finish past Enyeama to make it 3-0 and make sure of the record-breaking points (82').
Although Delaplace prevented the shut-out for Lille by stroking home after Marco Verratti had been caught in typical risk-taking behaviour in the area (90'), it was too little too late for Lille, who will have to win away to Lorient on the final day of the season to be guaranteed of third and the potentially lucrative Champions League opportunity that goes with it.