PSG, Nice remain in French Ligue 1 title race
Paris, March 5 (IANS) Reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) provisionally pulled alevel with leaders Monaco on points with top scorer Edinson Cavani’s penalty in a laboured 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Nancy in the Ligue 1 football tournament here.
In another match on Saturday night, Nice trailed on goal difference following a win against Dijon.
PSG and Nice were tied with Monaco on 62 points at the shared pole position in the French top division. Nancy and Dijon still sat 17th and 18th respectively, facing a tough challenge in their bid to avoid relegation, Xinhua news agency reported.
PSG Manager Unai Emery made eight changes to the starting line-up for Saturday evening’s game, as Portuguese promising talent Goncalo Guedes got the nod for his first start in the French league since joining from Benfica in winter transfer window.
PSG could not convert their huge advantage of possession into a goal until the 80th minute, when defender Serge Aurier was fouled by Nancy goalkeeper Sergey Chernik inside the box. Cavani coolly finished his 27th goal of the league, also his 37th in all competitions this season.
Before the goal, the visitors almost surprisingly built a lead over sloppy PSG, as substitute Alexis Busin’s shot hit the left post and rolled on to the right at the Parc des Princes.
“It’s always difficult to play against these teams that don’t give you enough space,” Cavani told Canal+ after a tough home victory.
Now the defending champions’ attention has been turned to the clash with La Liga giants Barcelona in UEFA Champions League last-16, where the French side won the first-leg 4-0 at home on Valentine’s Day.
Nice boosted their confidence as Mario Balotelli returned to the starting line-up after serving a one-game suspension due to inappropriate manner to match referee last weekend.
However, stealing the limelight of the night was Wylan Cyprien, who snatched his third goal in the past five matches in the 69th minute.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Bastia had a goalless draw with sixth-ranked Saint-Etienne, Caen lost to Angers 3-2, Metz tied Rennes at 1-1, the same score in the contest between Montpellier and Guingamp.