PSG celebrate title… with loss to Rennes
By S. Willis
Despite being crowned champions earlier in the evening as Monaco drew with Guingamp, Paris Saint-Germain fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Rennes, who defended their shock lead to clinch a win that banished relegation fears.
Paris Saint-Germain 1 - 2 Stade Rennais FC
Paris Saint-Germain may have fallen to a first home defeat of the season - just their third loss overall in a stellar Ligue 1 campaign - but the result did little to prevent the players from celebrating having stitched up a league-and-cup double - the first in the club's history - before they even took the pitch.
The champions got off to a flying start when Ezequiel Lavezzi banged home his eighth of the season as early as the third minute, but Foued Kadir (23') and Paul-Georges Ntep (27') struck back to put a dampener on PSG's party and give the inconsistent Brittany side a six-point lead over 17th-placed Sochaux with two matches left to play.
The return to action of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (subbed on in the 57th minute) after a month-long lay-off with a muscle tear set the scene for a fairy-tale comeback, but Rennes were wise to the Swede's danger - both on the ball and in terms of his galvanising effect on his team - and effectively parked the bus in front of their goal as Paris Saint-Germain piled on the pressure in the second half.
It had seemed as though Paris would play on for a trademark win after Edinson Cavani had beaten Sylvain Armand to an ill-judged back-pass and squared for Lavezzi to beat Benoît Costil with an angled shot (3') but, despite PSG's domination of possession in the first half, Rennes proved much sharper than in their Coupe de France final loss at the weekend as they made the most of their chances.
Nelson Oliveira may have fluffed his lines one-on-one with Salvatore Sirigu (17'), but Kadir made amends minutes later as he controlled Ntep's low cross to the far post and whipped his shot in off the unfortunate Christophe Jallet (23'). Next it was Ntep who proved sharp, the Cameroon-born France U-21 international sending a free-kick - conceded by Jallet - into the area where it sailed past all concerned and into the back of the PSG net (27').
Jallet's nightmare didn't end there, with the right-back forced off with a back complaint. PSG boss Laurent Blanc opted to bring on habitual centre-back Marquinhos in his stead (28') and Paris didn't concede again - even though Sweden hotshot Ola Toivonen blazed over with Sirigu's goal at his mercy (81') - but nor could they break down the resolute Rennes defence.
Not for want of trying, though, especially in the final stages of the match when Brazil stopper Alex rose highest to head a cross from compatriot Maxwell onto the bar (90'+1). Nonetheless, the Paris players were in ebullient mood as they celebrated their title after the final whistle - deservedly so after a record-breaking season - while Rennes were also in party mode after finally putting their relegation worries to bed with a standout win.