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.