Marseille retains league after drawing with PSG
European Football Headlines
(AP Photo/Claude Paris)
By JEROME PUGMIRE
AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) Marseille kept hold of first place in the French league on Sunday after drawing 2-2 with bitter rival Paris Saint-Germain, with strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andre-Pierre Gignac both scoring twice with well-taken goals in a pulsating first half.
PSG would have overtaken Marseille for first place with a win, but was let down by poor defending and had Ibrahimovic to thank for gaining a point that maintained its unbeaten start to the league season - although it remains three points behind Marseille after eight games.
"It's not a bad result," said PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti, who claimed his players were tired after Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Porto in the Champions League.
"We didn't play a great match, nothing exceptional," Ancelotti added. "I think the key was that we could have controlled the game better after our second goal. We didn't play with enough intensity."
Marseille was heavily beaten 4-1 by Valenciennes last weekend, but a resounding win in the Europa League on Thursday boosted confidence and Elie Baup's team started strongly against a lackluster PSG.
"We showed that we could rival PSG. A lot of people thought we would lose this match 4-0 or 5-0," Marseille midfielder Benoit Cheyrou said. "The league lasts a long time and we've started well."
PSG, which lost the corresponding match 3-0 last season, looked static in midfield and failed to close down Marseille properly, or get the ball up to Ibrahimovic early on.
Gignac punished PSG in the 17th minute. Andre Ayew won possession in midfield and fed the ball to Gignac some 35 yards (meters) from goal. Gignac pushed the ball inside defender Christophe Jallet and then outside of him before hitting a diagonal shot that went past goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu's outstretched hand.
Ibrahimovic then scored two stunning goals in the 23rd and 25th to send the raucous Stade Velodrome crowd into total silence and take his prolific tally to 10 goals in nine games since joining from AC Milan.
First, he volleyed the ball in from near the penalty spot with his outside of his foot with a martial arts-type kick from Maxwell's corner, and then hit a free kick from 30 yards (meters) with such pace that it flew past goalie Steve Mandanda before he could get across to stop it.
On a bad night for both defenses, Gignac equalized in the 32nd when he soared above four PSG players to equalize with a powerful header from winger Mathieu Valbuena's corner that gave Sirigu no chance.
"We started the game well and deserved to score," Valbuena said. "Then we eased up a bit and they punished us for it, even though they didn't create many chances."
Marseille then went close to regaining the lead shortly after when defender Kassim Abdallah hit a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area that Sirigu scrambled to push away.
Marseille winger Morgan Amalfitano was involved in a tussle with Blaise Matuidi throughout the first half and as they confronted each other when the halftime whistle was blown. Amalfitano slapped Matuidi in the face, forcing other players to intervene as Matuidi sought retribution.
Ancelotti replaced the ineffective Javier Pastore - who cost 42 million when he joined last season - with Kevin Gameiro, and the diminutive forward went close early in the second half when he ran onto Jeremy Menez's pass and shot just wide.
After that, there were was little excitement, although Ayew and Ibrahimovic went close with difficult chances.
For the first time in nearly three years, visiting fans were allowed at the game - which is traditionally hostile - although only around 150 PSG fans attended.
Opposing fans waged running battles in the streets of Marseille in October 2009, leading to a reciprocal ban on away fans.
Earlier Sunday, Third-place Lyon missed the chance to keep the pressure on the top two when it was held to a 1-1 draw at Lorient, and sits one point behind PSG.
Striker Bafetimi Gomis gave Lyon the lead midway through the first half, but former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere hit back just after halftime as Lorient preserved its unbeaten record in the league this season and held on to fourth spot.
Meanwhile, sixth-place Bordeaux maintained its unbeaten start to the season after drawing 1-1 at Brest through striker Cheick Diabate's second-half equalizer.
Israel forward Eden Ben Basat put Brest ahead in the 38th minute with his third goal of the season, but Diabate leveled in the 68th with his second goal in as many games.
Updated October 7, 2012