PSG starts French league season with 1-0 win at Lille
Brazilian forward Lucas Moura netted the first goal of the French league season to give 10-man Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 win at Lille as the defending champions won on the opening day for the first time in five years.
PSG was forced to play with 10 men for more than one hour after Adrien Rabiot was sent off in the 27th minute for a second yellow card.
“Although we are still getting warmed up, our collective and individual level was high enough to control the match,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said.
PSG, which secured an unprecedented domestic treble last season and is chasing a fourth consecutive league title, dominated but struggled to break the solid Lille defense until Lucas found a breach in the 57th minute with a low shot that concluded a brilliant one-touch passing move.
It was PSG’s 10th consecutive league win, a record sequence started in March.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence because of a knee injury was hardly noticed in the early stages as PSG immediately took control. Its first chance came after just two minutes when David Luiz’s lofted ball found Edinson Cavani in an offside position that was not flagged. The Uruguay striker’s attempt was blocked and Lucas could not find a way past Lille defenders from the rebound.
With PSG’s new winger Angel Di Maria watching from the stands, Cavani had another chance on the break five minutes later but lost his balance and fell in the box after a slight contact with defender Benjamin Pavard. Cavani’s appeal for a penalty was turned down.
PSG’s domination gave way to a good spell for Lille that resulted in an accumulation of fouls from the visitors. Already booked for a rough tackle on Florent Balmont, Rabiot was sent off when he pulled an opponent’s shirt.
But Rabiot’s sending off had a positive effect on PSG players, who looked more focused afterward.
PSG kept pressing hard after the interval and finally went ahead when Lucas pierced the midfield barrier, passed the ball to Cavani and ran toward the goal to collect an assist from Blaise Matuidi. Rushing into the box at full speed, he easily rounded goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and scored with a neat finish.
Lille players laid siege of the visitors’ defense in the final 20 minutes but PSG new keeper Kevin Trapp was hardly tested.
“We should have been more aggressive in the duels. It’s difficult against PSG when you don’t take any risk,” said Lille new coach Herve Renard, who led Ivory Coast to the Africa Cup of Nations title this year.
Last season’s runner-up Lyon hosts Lorient on Sunday while Monaco travels to Nice on Saturday.
(Right) PSG’s Serge Aurier, left, heads the ball as he collides with Eric Bautheac of Lille, during the French League one soccer match between Lille and Paris Saint Germain, Friday.