PSG crowned au­tumn cham­pi­ons af­ter win on emo­tional day

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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.

One-sided

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

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