PSG do the job in Nice
By S. Willis
Paris Saint-Germain proved undistracted by their impending clash with Chelsea as they ran out 1-0 winners in Nice on Friday, an own-goal from Timothée Kolodziejczak clinching a ninth consecutive win in all competitions.
OGC Nice 0 - 1 Paris Saint-Germain
Paris kept themselves in a positive frame of mind with the win that sends them provisionally 13 points clear of Monaco, but will be hoping to better take their chances against the Londoners on Wednesday after being pushed by a tough performance from Nice and Colombia 'keeper David Ospina in particular.
It takes more than toilet rolls...
The match started with a stutter as kick-off was delayed by the Nice fans' throwing toilet rolls onto the goals, but it did nothing to mute the tenor of the occasion as Nice, unbeaten in three outings, showed the determination and combativeness that have seen them win nine of their 15 home matches (four losses) this season.
The hosts had an early Dario Cvitanich strike ruled out for off-side (11'), with the would-be assist provider Valentin Eysseric also testing Salvatore Sirigu with the outside of his boot (25'), but the lions share of chances in the opening term went Paris Saint-Germain's way, notably with Zlatan Ibrahimovic - who scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture - denied by the strong hand of Ospina from close range (37').
Paris have won every match preceding a Champions League fixtures this season and they looked confident as the in-form Ezequiel Lavezzi caused the home defence all sorts of problems with his runs in behind in the early stages.
But, while Edinson Cavani found the outside of the post with a diving effort (34') before a header from Thiago Silva - wearing a facemask after fracturing a cheekbone against Lorient last week - drew a solid save from Ospina (44'), Laurent Blanc's men simply couldn't make their myriad chances go in.
Pressure pays off
And in the end it was with a helping hand from Nice defender Kolodziejczak that the capital club finally got ahead, the former OL youngster fudging his clearance under the very close attentions of Cavani as the Uruguayan hunted down Javier Pastore's cross (52').
Blanc, who had rested a raft of big names ahead of Wednesday's high-octane Champions League clash with Chelsea, brought on Verratti, Lucas and Matuidi after the hour-mark for a run as the tempo slowed in the second term.
Comfortable for some
Mathieu Bodmer kept Nice in the match as he cleared off the line as Lucas Digne followed up on Ospina's save from an Ibrahimovic effort (73'), but Paris guarded their lead closely as the minutes wound down and Blanc's men comfortably clinched their 23rd win of the season.
Nice remain in provisional 11th place on 35 points but could slip as low as 14th by the end of the weekend, possibly just three points clear of the drop ahead of their trip to Saint-Etienne next week.