PSG go top of league with 2-0 win against Gaz­elec Ajac­cio


De­fend­ing cham­pion Paris Saint-Ger­main moved to the top of the French league af­ter beat­ing Gaz­elec Ajac­cio 2-0 on Sun­day in a match pit­ting the big­gest and small­est bud­gets in the di­vi­sion.

PSG’s an­nual bud­get of 500 mil­lion eu­ros (US$555 mil­lion) dwarfs Gaz­elec’s 14 mil­lion eu­ros (US$15.6 mil­lion), but af­ter goals from midfielder Blaise Ma­tu­idi and cen­ter half Thi­ago Silva in the first 21 min­utes, PSG strug­gled to put chances away.

PSG has six points from two matches and leads Reims and Nor­mandy side Caen on goal dif­fer­ence.

“We could have scored more but they were well or­ga­nized and didn’t want to con­cede,” Ma­tu­idi said. “It’s a pity we didn’t take more of our chances, but we didn’t con­cede any goals and that’s good be­cause last sea­son teams of­ten equal­ized against us.”

Ear­lier, Mar­seille’s tur­bu­lent sea­son got worse with a 1-0 loss away to Reims, af­ter con­ced­ing an early goal and fin­ish­ing the match with 10 men.

In Sun­day’s other match, Lori­ent drew 1-1 at home to Bas­tia.

Cor­si­can side Gaz­elec’s

tiny sta­dium has a ca­pac­ity of 4,800 — 10 times less than PSG’s Parc des Princes — while coach Thierry Lau­rey’s monthly salary of 20,000 eu­ros is 25 times less than his PSG coun­ter­part Lau­rent Blanc’s.

“You have to be de­mand­ing both in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively, no mat­ter who you play against,” Blanc said. “We’re mak­ing changes to the squad. It will give us more mo­men­tum and mo­ti­va­tion (and) the squad needs it.”

PSG pa­raded new sign­ing An­gel di Maria, who cost 63 mil­lion eu­ros (US$69 mil­lion), be­fore the home fans, but the Ar­gentina winger sat out the match with a thigh in­jury.

With star striker Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic also side­lined with an an­kle in­jury, 18- year- old Paris- born striker Jean-Kevin Au­gustin started his first game for the club.

PSG’s in­ces­sant early pres­sure paid off in the 12th minute when Silva’s cross was poorly dealt with and Ma­tu­idi re­acted quick­est to lash a shot past goal­keeper Cle­ment Maury. Then, Silva made it 2-0 in the 22nd with a thump­ing header from midfielder Thi­ago Motta’s cor­ner, and Au­gustin went close with a header in a one-sided first half.

Edin­son Ca­vani, who cost 64 mil­lion eu­ros (US$71.2 mil­lion) when he joined PSG from Napoli two years ago, flashed a header over the cross­bar mid­way through the sec­ond half and then had another header saved by Maury.

Missed head­ers be­came the theme of the sec­ond half, as right back Serge Aurier went just wide with a div­ing header in the 80th, and Maury kept out ef­forts from cen­ter half David Luiz and again from Ca­vani in the clos­ing stages.

“Of course it’s hard to com­pete (against PSG) but we gave ev­ery­thing,” Gaz­elec de­fender Roderic Filippi said.

No­to­ri­ously volatile Mar­seille was thrown into tur­moil last week­end when coach Marcelo Bielsa re­signed mo­ments af­ter a home de­feat to Caen, de­spite pledg­ing days ear­lier that he was about to sign a two-year con­tract.

Bielsa’s res­ig­na­tion has shocked the club, es­pe­cially as he be­came hugely pop­u­lar with fans who know feel they have been com­pletely be­trayed.

Pres­i­dent Vin­cent Labrune, who is scout­ing around for Bielsa’s re­place­ment, paid trib­ute to the “ex­cep­tional at­ti­tude of the Mar­seille fans” dur­ing Sun­day’s match.

At Reims, nes­tled in France’s famed Cham­pagne re­gion, Mar­seille’s club owner Mar­garita Louis-Drey­fus and her son Kyri at­tended the match. But there was lit­tle to toast af­ter another dis­ap­point­ing re­sult for nine-time cham­pion Mar­seille, the only French club to win the Euro­pean Cup, in 1993.

Led by care­taker coach Franck Passi, the visi­tors fell be­hind when Mali de­fender Hamari Traore scored in the 14th minute, pounc­ing on a poorly cleared cor­ner to chest down the loose ball be­fore beat­ing goal­keeper Steve Man­danda with a half-volley.

“We could have given a bet­ter ac­count of our­selves,” Passi said.

Lori­ent striker Ben­jamin Moukandjo’s last-minute penalty can­celled out for­ward Floyd Ayite’s early goal for the visi­tors.


Paris Saint Ger­main’s Edin­son Ca­vani, back to cam­era at cen­ter, chal­lenges for the ball with Ajac­cio Gaz­elec’s Alexan­dre Co­eff, top, as Ajac­cio Gaz­elec goal­keeper Cle­ment Maury stops the ball dur­ing the French League one soc­cer match at the Parc des Princes sta­dium in Paris, France. Sun­day, Aug. 16.

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