PSG take (provisional) lead in France
Kevin Gameiro, second-right, celebrates after scoring against Reims
PARIS, France ● Paris Saint-Germain again left its fans feeling disappointed after scraping a 1-0 home win against Reims on Saturday, despite provisionally moving to the top of the French league for the first time this season and remaining unbeaten.
Just like in the last home match, when he scored both goals in a lacklustre performance against Sochaux, Kevin Gameiro again proved to be PSG’s match-winner when he headed home in the second half.
“It was a difficult match, with players coming back from the international break, so we couldn’t prepare the match properly,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “The second half was better, and we deserved to win. It’s good to be top of the league, even if it’s only for one night.”
But Reims had the better chances in the first half and missed the chance to take the lead in the 40th minute when Brazilian midfielder Diego missed a penalty.
“It is a little bit [frustrating] because I don’t think we played very well tonight, particularly in the first half when Reims caused us a lot of trouble,” PSG defender Christophe Jallet said. “At the end of the second half we should have killed the game off. We can’t [miss] so many chances. I think that’s why there was a bit of tension, because we were on the razor’s edge.”
PSG is level with Marseille, but Marseille can restore its three-point lead if it wins away at last-place Troyes on Sunday.
Toulouse climbed temporarily into third place after a crushing 4-0 win away over Evian.
Goals from midfielder Franck Tabanou and Emmanuel Riviere put Toulouse 2-0 up at halftime. Riviere got another just after the break and Norway midfielder Daniel Braaten wrapped up a convincing victory with the fourth in the 87th.
Valenciennes is a point behind Toulouse in fourth spot after an even bigger win, routing previously unbeaten Lorient 6-1 at home.
Benjamin Corgnet gave Lorient the lead in the seventh minute but Valenciennes hit back quickly with goals from Carlos Sanchez and Anthony Le Tallec, and things became worse for Lorient when defender Arnaud Le Lan was sent off in the 17th.
Lorient finished the match with nine players after Swiss striker Innocent Emeghara was sent off in the 75th.
Lyon can leapfrog both teams and reclaim third place if it beats Brest at home on Sunday.
At Parc des Princes, Nene’s clever back heel gave Gameiro PSG’s only shot on target in the first half, and it was cleared off the line by defender Aissa Mandi.
PSG right back Gregory van der Wiel then blatantly handled the ball, and got a reprieve when Diego’s spot kick was expertly saved by Salvatore Sirigu.
Reims left back Pape Souare caused problems throughout and he saw two of his shots blocked close to halftime, with PSG centre half Mamadou Sakho saving one effort with his face.
“If we keep playing like that and win 1-0 we won’t be far off from our objectives,” Jallet said. “We have to be satisfied with the win, but we must play much better.”
PSG did improve in the second half. Reims goalie Kossi Agassa was twice saved by the woodwork as France midfielder Blaise Matuidi hit the crossbar with a curling shot, and France winger Jeremy Menez struck the left post with a fierce shot. His luck ran out in the 65th when Maxwell crossed from the right and Gameiro nipped in ahead of his marker.
“It’s great to score, especially as it was the only goal of the game,” said Gameiro, who started only his second league game. “It’s not easy to go from substitute to first-team player. Sometimes your legs go and you feel a bit tired.”
Elsewhere, it was: Nancy 1, Sochaux 1; Nice 1, Saint-Etienne 1, and Rennes 2, Montpellier 1.
Cameroon midfielder Jean II Makoun got his first goal of the season to give Rennes the lead, and Turkey striker Mevlut Erding made it 2-0 early in the second half before Younes Belhanda pulled a goal back from the penalty spot for the defending champion.
Rennes sealed its third straight league win to climb up to ninth spot ahead of Saint-Etienne, while Montpellier hovers just above the relegation zone.
Midfielder Eric Bautheac scored for Nice only for Brazilian striker Brandao to earn Saint-Etienne a point with his fourth goal in as many games.
Sochaux and Nancy stay in the relegation zone. Nancy took an early lead through centre half Sebastien Puygrenier, but winger Sebastien Roudet levelled in the 55th.
In Sunday’s other game, Ajaccio takes on Bastia in a Corsican derby.