PSG overcome red card to win at Marseille and take step closer to title

Published April 2, 2024
MARSEILLE: Paris Saint-Germain’s Vitinha (L) scores during the Ligue 1 match against Olympique Marseille at Stade Velodrome.—AFP
MARSEILLE: Paris Saint-Germain’s Vitinha (L) scores during the Ligue 1 match against Olympique Marseille at Stade Velodrome.—AFP

MARSEILLE: Portuguese duo Vitinha and Goncalo Ramos scored in the second half as 10-man Paris St Germain overcame early jitters to secure a 2-0 win and hand bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille their first home loss of the season in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

PSG’s league double over their rivals took them to 62 points and put them 12 points clear of second-placed Brest, who won 1-0 at Lorient earlier in the day.

“Yes, I’m happy with the result, because it’s a classic,” PSG manager Luis Enrique said. “We know it’s special for our supporters. We knew the pressure in this stadium where they were undefeated.”

PSG endured a frustrating first half at a rainy Stade Velodrome as Marseille’s defence nullified the league’s leading goal-scorer Kylian Mbappe until he was substituted just after the hour mark.

Lucas Beraldo was sent off five minutes before the break, after a challenge on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by the touchline that the referee deemed to be denying a goalscoring opportunity after a VAR review despite it happening near the halfway line.

But Vitinha opened the scoring for the league leaders in the 53rd minute, running through the middle and playing a one-two with Ousmane Dembele before firing home from near the penalty spot.

Marseille thought they had equalised six minutes later when Luis Henrique found the net but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Marseille pressed hard with Aubame­yang and Faris Moumb­agna creating several chances, but PSG keeper Gianluigi Donnar­umma made 10 saves in the match to ensure a clean sheet.

Ramos ended the hosts’ comeback hopes in the 85th minute with Marco Asensio setting him up for a right-footed finish that silenced the Stade Velodrome.

“There’s always this desire to be unpredictable for opponents,” Enrique said. “I liked what I saw in terms of occupying space. If you don’t know where my players are going to play, it’s a surprise.”

Marseille remain seventh with 39 points,, three points away from the European places.

Brest remain on course for Champions League qualification after beating Brittany rivals Lorient thanks to a late Romain Del Castillo goal.

They held on for the victory despite having Billal Brahimi sent off in stoppage time, and the result lifted them back up into second place above Monaco. Brest, who have never qualified for Europe, are four points better off than fourth-placed Lille.

The top three in Ligue 1 will qualify automatically for next season’s expanded Champions League, with fourth place entering in the preliminary rounds.

Nice remain fifth despite losing 2-1 at home to struggling Nantes, whose winner came from a late penalty by Egypt striker Mostafa Mohamed.

Second in the table at the season’s halfway stage, Nice have now won just once in their last eight league games.

The result takes Nantes, in their first game since Antoine Kombouare returned for a second spell as coach, out of the relegation play-off place, with Lorient replacing them.

Rennes saw their prospects of European qualification dealt a blow in a 2-0 defeat away to Patrick Vieira’s Strasbourg, while there were also wins for Montpellier and Toulouse.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2024

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