After returning from injury, it took Chelsea target Edinson Cavani only eight minutes to score against Marseille.
With flags waving, music blaring and a huge Paris Saint-Germain shirt draped over the fans at the beginning of the game, there was a party atmosphere inside the Parc des Princes this on Sunday night.
After Monaco lost away at Saint-Etienne on Saturday, the side from the capital had a chance to go eight points clear at the top of Ligue 1. With the score at 1-0, the icing on the cake was left to Chelsea target, Edinson Cavani, scoring after only eight minutes of his return. It was smiles all-round for the reigning Ligue 1 champions.
Sunday’s action started on the island of Corsica as Lille tried to regain third spot after Saint Etienne’s 2-0 win over Monaco, and they didn’t have it their own way. Ajaccio took the lead after just 40 seconds when Junior Tallo expertly side-footed his shot past Victor Enyeama after a lovely cross from the left.
Lille hit-back twice in 13 minutes, both goals coming through former Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou. The first from the penalty spot after a dubious handball shout on Johan Cavalli, the second a well finished volley from Jonathan Delaplace’s cross to the back post.
Junior Tallo would answer back within four minutes. The Lille defence was caught sleeping allowing Tallo the time to compose himself before lobbing Enyeama to level the scores. Both forwards would go into the break on a brace, but it was Kalou that would have the last say, again from the penalty spot.
There is still confusion as to why the penalty was given, replays showed forward Nolan Roux being pulled back, but also the ball coming off the back of Mehdi Mostefa’s arm, both decisions looked harsh. Kalou didn’t care, putting the penalty the same way as his first, giving Lille a lead that this time they would keep. A vital three points in the race for third.
That put the pressure on Lyon, at home to Montpellier, after their late win during the week over Odessa in the Champions League; they needed all three points to keep in touch with the sides above. Despite dominating most of the game, they were frustrated by a spirited Montpellier side, and the game would end goalless.
The point leaves Lyon seven points behind Lille in third and five points behind rivals Saint Etienne in fourth. Remi Garde finding it difficult to balance the league and European campaign with such a small squad. Their best chance of European football next season may be to win the Europa League or Coupe de la Ligue, rather than finishing in fourth.
Sunday finished in the French capital, PSG with the chance to go eight points clear, with Marseille knowing that a win would keep the title race open, and would keep them in touch with the teams above.
The away side started bright, but PSG had the answer for most of their attacks, the highlight of the first half was the amazing run from PSG’s Brazilian Lucas Moura. Taking the ball deep in his own half, he would beat four OM players, before his touch let him down inside the box, his chip cleared off the line by Rod Fanni.
The breakthrough came in the second half as Zlatan Ibrahimovic turned provider, linking with his good friend Maxwell, slipping the Brazilian in on goal, it was Zlatan’s 10th assist of the season, Maxwell calmly slotting past Mandanda. The Swede now leads the league, one assist ahead of Monaco’s James Rodriguez.
One of the biggest cheers of the night came when Uruguayan forward, Edinson Cavani replaced Ezequiel Lavezzi late in the second half. The striker had been out since the end of January, and he will be crucial in PSG’s Champions League campaign. It took him only eight minutes of his return to make his mark. Full credit has to go to right-back Gregory van der Wiel, his beautiful volleyed cross was pin-perfect as Cavani rose majestically before powering the header beyond Mandanda.
His delight and that of his teammates should pour some water on the rumours of his imminent departure. It showed how important Cavani is to this PSG side, and it will take a massive bid for any side that wants to prize the €64 million striker from the soon to be consecutive Ligue 1 champions.