PSG crowned autumn champions after win on emotional day
PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain are guaranteed to end 2015 on top of the Ligue 1 table after a 4-1 win against Troyes on a day marked by tributes to the victims of the recent terror attacks. It was a routine win for PSG with Edinson Cavani and Layvin Kurzawa finding the net either side of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty before youngster Jean-Kevin Augustin wrapped up the points. Thomas Ayasse got one back for the away side but the win for Paris means they are still unbeaten domestically this season and are so far clear of their rivals that they have already secured the symbolic title of autumn champions for the team that tops the table at Christmas.
But the match was also significant for being the first top-level game to be played in the French capital since the terror attacks in the city and outside the Stade de France during France’s game with Germany on November 13 that left 130 dead and many more injured. With France still in a state of emergency, there were stringent security checks on the way into the Parc des Princes, and there was also a moving tribute before the game kicked off.
The likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and other sporting superstars appeared on a video played on big screens with each repeating the slogan ‘Je Suis Paris’ (I am Paris) that PSG also sported on their shirts. A huge French flag greeted the players as they came out while ‘La Marseillaise’ was sung and a minute’s silence held, just as had been the case across France and elsewhere in Europe last weekend. France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls and the Emir of Qatar were also among the crowd for the game as the club owned by the Gulf state further demonstrated their dominance over the rest of Ligue 1.
PSG were looking to make 24 Ligue 1 games unbeaten against a Troyes side who had still not won since returning to the top flight in the summer and it was a largely one-sided contest. Cavani had already come close twice before he opened the scoring 20 minutes in, meeting Angel Di Maria’s assist with a firsttime finish after the visitors lost possession cheaply in their own half.
At the other end Kevin Trapp had to intervene twice with good saves from Fabien Camus and Benjamin Nivet to ensure Paris remained in front going into half-time. The hosts went on to double their lead just before the hour, however. A penalty was awarded when Lucas was brought down inside the area by Chris Mavinga and Ibrahimovic stepped up to send Paul Bernardoni the wrong way from the spot and score his 10th league goal of the campaign. The third goal arrived midway through the second half when a Di Maria cross was headed away by the Troyes defense but only as far as Kurzawa, who controlled on his chest before volleying low into the bottomright corner.
Augustin, who had replaced Cavani, got the fourth goal with six minutes left, his shot from 25 yards going through the legs of Bernardoni. Ayasse got one back with a fine strike in injury time but Troyes remain rooted to the foot of the table. Paris are provisionally a huge 16 points clear of second-placed Lyon despite being only 15 games into the season, although that advantage could be reduced later with Nice having the chance to go second with a win at Toulouse. Knocked out of the Champions League in midweek, Lyon’s recent struggles continued when they lost 4-2 at home to Montpellier on Friday. —AFP
Brighton climbed back to the top of the Championship as Bobby Zamora’s second-half strike sealed a 2-1 win against Birmingham yesterday. Chris Hughton’s side had surrendered first place following Derby’s 2-0 victory at Hull on Friday, but Zamora’s decisive intervention at the Amex Stadium ensured the Seagulls leapfrogged their promotion rivals to reclaim pole position. Solly March put Brighton in front in the 17th minute before Jon Toral headed an equalizer four minutes later for sixth placed Birmingham.
Former Tottenham and West Ham striker Zamora, in his second spell at the club where he made his name, extended Brighton’s 18-match unbeaten start to their league campaign when he scored from close-range after March’s effort had been blocked in the 47th minute. Middlesbrough moved into second place as they claimed a sixth win from seven matches in all competitions by beating struggling Huddersfield 2-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Adam Clayton’s deflected ninth-minute effort put Boro in front and despite a strong performance from the hosts, the lead was doubled by Emilio Nsue with six minutes left. Ipswich are seventh after a 3-0 win at Charlton that was clinched by two goals from Daryl Murphy and one from Freddie Sears. Fifth placed Burnley extended their unbeaten run to nine matches as Matthew Connolly’s 93rd-minute own goal salvaged a 2-2 draw at Cardiff.
Lucas Joao’s seventh goal of the season came six minutes from full-time to give Sheffield Wednesday a 2-2 draw at Blackburn. At the bottom of the table, Rotherham secured back-to-back victories with a 3-0 home win over Bristol City. Nottingham Forest claimed just a second win in 11 games with a 3-1 victory over Reading at the City Ground. Matej Vydra’s cool finish in the 14th minute gave the Royals the lead but Forest stormed back as Chris O’Grady leveled from a Ryan Mendes assist.
Mendes was heavily involved in the goal that put Forest ahead as he led a counterattack and played in Nelson Oliveira to score after half an hour’s play. Oliveira added Forest’s third in the 49th minute and the hosts held on despite Jack Hobbs’ dismissal in the 66th minute. Charlie Austin came off the bench to give QPR a 1-0 win over Leeds with his 58th minute strike at Loftus Road. Ross McCormack notched his 12th of the season to rescue a 1-1 draw for Fulham at home to Preston, while Wolves and Milton Keynes Dons shared a goalless stalemate at Molineux.—AFP
PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain’s Italian midfielder Thiago Motta (right) jumps to head the ball with Troyes’ French defender Matthieu Saunier (left) during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Troyes yesterday. —AFP