Lyon close on Europe with PSG win
By S. Telford
An opportunistic strike from Jordan Ferri (30') was enough for Olympique Lyonnais to beat champions-elect Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 and close to within two points of fourth-placed AS Saint-Étienne.
Olympique Lyonnais 1 - 0 Paris Saint-Germain
With AS Monaco beating Stade Rennais 1-0 on Saturday, PSG knew that the Ligue 1 title would have to wait until at least Week 34, but Laurent Blanc's men were nonetheless keen to lick their wounds after their midweek away goals exit at the hands of Chelsea in the Champions League. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic still struggling with a thigh injury, Edinson Cavani was again tasked with leading the line against a Lyon side that saw their own European adventure ended at the hands of Juventus in the Europa League on Thursday.
It was a lively start at the Stade de Gerland, with both goalkeepers tested in the opening few minutes. PSG right-back Gregory van der Wiel raced down the flank and crossed for Cavani who headed goalwards, only to see Anthony Lopes react well to palm his effort clear at the near post (2'). Moments later Bafétimbi Gomis volleyed towards PSG's goal but Salvatore Sirigu was equally as agile as his opposite number, getting down well to save (5').
PSG had the ball in the Lyon goal soon after. Cavani looked to have been fouled by Lopes before Lucas Digne followed up to tap the ball into an empty net, but neither goal nor penalty were given with the offside flag having gone up on the far side (8'). Gomis celebrated his 100th Ligue 1 goal in last weekend's 2-1 win over Valenciennes FC, and he proved a constant handful to the visiting defence. After powering his way past Digne and Thiago Silva the striker undid his hard work by pulling his effort wide of the near post (11'). Minutes later Jimmy Briand teed up his strike partner for another pop at goal, but again Sirigu proved more than equal to it (13').
Both teams took their foot off the gas after that opening salvo before the game exploded back into action on the half hour. Ezequiel Lavezzi played a loose ball square across the face of his own goal and Jordan Ferri capitalised in fine style, curling the ball past a helpless Sirigu from range (30') as the capital club conceded their first Ligue 1 goal in seven games. Laurent Blanc's side tried to return fire soon after but with Cavani once again denied by Lopes (40') and Yohan Cabaye volleying wide (44'), the opening 45 minutes drew to a close with Lyon halfway to their first win over PSG since January 2010.
No team has ever had as many as the 79 points PSG boast after 32 league outings, but they were under par here. In an attempt to add some attacking verve to his side, Blanc introduced Lucas Moura at the expense of the more defensive-minded Blaise Matuidi for the final half hour (58') and minutes later the champions-elect came close to drawing level, but Cabaye failed to get the necessary power to beat Lopes at the near post after being played in by Javier Pastore (61'). Paris had the ball in the net again when Lavezzi tapped in after a miscue from Cavani, but the Argentine was denied his eighth goal of the season with his Uruguayan counterpart again falling foul of the offside law (63').
Meeting again in next Saturday's Coupe de la Ligue final, it is Lyon who will enter the clash at the Stade de France in more confident mood after this dress rehearsal. Les Gones were unfortunate not to pull further clear. Ferri tested Sirigu from range but the Italian did well to tip his effort over (69'). Ferri swung in the resulting corner and Gomis rose highest at the back post but could only watch on as his effort skimmed along the top of the crossbar (70').
Thiago Motta and Lavezzi looked like the most likely sources of an equaliser for PSG, but when the latter attempted to use his knee to convert the former's delivery into the box and missed, the writing appeared to be on the wall (71'). They switched roles soon after, but Motta was denied his first goal of the season when Lopes beat him to Lavezzi's cross to the back post (76'). Pastore then had a gilt-edged chance to grab a leveller in the dying minutes but Lopes raced off his line to deny the midfielder (85') and PSG slumped to just their second league defeat of the season.