PSG deny France Ligue 1 top spot after Lille stalemate

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Paris Saint-Germain were prevented from regaining top spot in France Ligue 1 after being held to a 0-0 draw by defending champions Lille in an engaging game at Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Pre-match attention had focused on the rumoured presence in the capital of David Beckham, but in his absence, PSG were unable to break down Rudi Garcia’s side in the last major head-to-head clash before the winter break.

The draw took PSG level on points with leaders Montpellier but they are in second place on goal difference, while Lille – unbeaten in 16 french Ligue 1 games – crept above Lyon into third place via the same criteria. “I’ve got mixed feelings, because we had the best chances at the start of the match, then it became more complicated,” said PSG coach Antoine Kombouare.

“But you have to praise this superb Lille machine. They’re the reigning champions and they’ve not lost away from home.

“We lost the ball in the final third, but we went forward and we had chances. We played well. We tried to wait for them and play on the counter-attack, but our finishing let us down.”

PSG were hoping to bounce back from the setback of their mid-week Europa League elimination, but they will still have the summit in their sights when they visit Saint-Etienne in their final pre-Christmas game on Wednesday.

The result means that only two points now separate France’s top four clubs, and Lille will also have designs on first place when they host Nice the same day.

“A point away from home, and at Paris, who are the favourites for the title, can’t be a bad point,” said Lille coach Garcia.

“In the second half, we saw a Lille that was more enterprising and ambitious, and we had the better chances. If (Salvatore) Sirigu hadn’t played so well, we could have won it.

“We’re still on the podium and it’s very tight at the top. Everything’s possible. But this point will only be valuable if we’re able to win at home to Nice on Wednesday.”

Typically, PSG played on the counter-attack and procured the best chance of the first half, with Kevin Gameiro thrashing a rushed half-volley wide after being freed by Javier Pastore.

That aside, the opening 45 minutes lacked drama, as a heavy downpour made enterprising football difficult.

Pastore fired a warning shot wide early in the second period and the game began to open up, with PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu forced to parry a Mathieu Debuchy header just short of the hour.

Lille finished the game strongly, and Sirigu displayed his trademark athleticism to tip over a rasping 25-yard effort from Idrissa Gueye before clawing away an injury-time curler from substitute Ireneusz Jelen.

Earlier, Rennes’ dismal form continued as they sank to a 1-0 defeat at bottom side Ajaccio that left them six points outside the Champions League positions in seventh place.

Fousseni Diawara scored the winner with seven minutes to go, pouncing from close range after Johan Cavalli’s shot was deflected and thereby condemning Rennes to a fifth successive game without a win in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Bordeaux extended their unbeaten run to four games with a 1-0 success at home to Sochaux that left them in ninth position and stretched their run without conceding a goal to 377 minutes.

On Saturday, Montpellier were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Toulouse after a fine goal from Senegalese left-back Cheikh M’Bengue gave the visitors a point.

Lyon overcame Evian 2-1 at Stade Gerland, while Marseille remained eighth after Mathieu Valbuena scored a stunning equaliser and then created an injury-time winner to earn OM a 2-1 win over nine-man Lorient.

France Ligue 1 results:

Bordeaux 1 Sochaux 0
Ajaccio 1 Rennes 0
Paris Saint-Germain 0 Lille 0

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