Nice Still On Moncao’s Trail As Minnows Chase Ligue 1 Glory
Reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain provisionally leveled leaders Monaco on points with top scorer Edinson Cavani’s penalty in a labored 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Nantes, and Nice just trailed by goal difference with the same score against Dijon in the 28th round action of Ligue 1 on Saturday.
PSG kept their title hope alive on all four fronts after eliminating second division side Niort in midweek’s French Cup round of 16. Head coach Unai Emery made eight changes to the starting line-up, 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 in possession, shots, and shots on target into a goal until the 80th minute when defender Serge Aurier was fouled by Nancy goalkeeper Sergey Chernik inside the box. Cavani cooly 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,” the Uruguayan striker 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 not the returning Italian striker but Wylan Cyprien, who snatched his third goal in the past five matches on 69 minutes.
PSG and Nice were tying with leaders Monaco on 62 points, but the latter could regain a three-point lead with Sunday’s home matchup against Nantes in hand. Nancy and Dijon still sat 17th and 18th respectively, facing tough challenges ahead to avoid their relegation.
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.
(With Inputs From Xinhua)