Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Olympique de Marseille
Paris Saint-Germain claim the Classico bragging rights with a hard fought 2-1 win over Olympique de Marseille at the Parc des Princes.
The big news ahead of the game was Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to drop captain Mamadou Sakho to the bench as well as opting not to play an out-and-out-striker. Guillaume Hoarau and Kevin Gameiro found themselves on the substitute’s bench with Jeremy Menez playing as the outlet up top – in tandem with Nene and Javier Pastore.
The game was pretty similar to the one last November with the roles reversed. PSG started out the traps the much brighter of the two and were conducting some neat intricate play.
It did not take too long for the hosts to capitalise on their early dominance. Nene’s looping ball from the left was met by Christophe Jallet whose scuffed effort found its way to Menez who steered it past Steve Mandanda with his right foot and gave the hosts a sixth minute lead.
Marseille nearly responded immediately as Mathieu Valbuena produced one of his trademark set-pieces – with pinpoint accuracy – to the head of Alou Diarra but Salvatore Sirigu got his body behind it.
The game then became rather scrappy with niggly fouls being committed by both sets of players. Mohamed Sissoko was cautioned for a nasty looking lunge on Andre Ayew and was lucky not to receive a more severe card. Valbuena was also booked and Carlo Ancelotti got in the midst of a light dispute between Nene and Ayew as he voiced his opinion to the referee.
With chance few and far between, it was the visitors who began to dictate proceedings and enjoyed more of the ball. In the first-half Les Phoceens had 54% possession and they finished the half the stronger of the two sides.
After the interval, the game pretty much resumed as it did in the opening period. Both teams were cancelling each other out, struggling to break each other down in the final third and conjure up any cut chances.
PSG produced a superb piece of play as Menez had Marseille sweating with a run through the middle, subsequently picking out Nene in the box with a delicate dinked ball but the Brazilian’s first-time volley in the box flashed wide.
OM drew themselves level – against the run of play it can be argued – as A.Ayew nodded in Loic Remy’s header across the face of goal dead on the hour mark.
Thankfully their joy was short-lived as 30 seconds later, Alex got up above Alou Diarra to head home Nene’s corner. The Brazilian showed his strength in the air giving Mandanda no chance as the ball trickled in off his right-hand post.
To Marseille’s credit, they continued to pose the question of an equaliser and perhaps should have got it via Benoit Cheyrou but he blazed his effort miles over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Some handbags near the end resulted in a dismissal, stand-in skipper Sissoko picked up a second yellow card for a late lunge on Diarra seconds after Sakho replaced Menez who got a standing ovation for a superb performance.
PSG held on for what is a massive three points to get themselves back on level terms with Montpellier at the top of the table.