Ligue 1 roundup

Beckham sent off as PSG edges Evian

April 28, 2013
By Associated Press

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain closed in on the French league title with a 1-0 victory at Evian that featured the dismissal of PSG midfielders David Beckham and Marco Verratti plus two other players after the match ended following a mass confrontation.

Javier Pastore scored in the 50th minute to keep PSG nine points ahead of second-place Marseille with four rounds remaining.

But the win will do little for PSG's image, with midfielder Blaise Matuidi running over to gloat in front of the Evian bench moments after the final whistle and goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu clashing with several Evian players.

Sirigu and Evian striker Saber Khlifa were sent off after the final whiste.

Earlier, Lyon held onto third place after fighting back to earn a 1-1 draw at home to bitter local rival Saint-Etienne.

"The pressure is on practically all the teams fighting for the podium," Lyon coach Remi Garde said. "Marseille has pulled away a bit. But between Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Lille, Nice - it's the same. There's a lot of pressure for everyone."

Evian recently beat PSG on penalty kicks in the French Cup quarterfinals, and avenging that loss got to some of PSG's players. Matuidi appeared to goad the Evian bench and Sirigu was embroiled in several tussles with Evian players.

PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti, who had remonstrated angrily with Verratti after his dismissal, stood motionless on the sidelines as the chaos scenes played out with some looking to join in the melee while others tried to drag them away.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the league's top scorer, went close halfway through a scrappy first half when he clipped a shot just wide after meeting a cross from the right. Ibrahimovic then picked out Ezequiel Lavezzi with a pass from the right, but the Argentine winger sent his shot wide.

Pastore gave PSG the lead when he curled am exquisite first-time shot past goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait after being set up by right back Christophe Jallet.

Lavezzi, whose finishing has been erratic all season, then missed a great chance midway through the second half when he ran onto a fine pass from Pastore, rounded Laquait, but sent his shot against a defender with the net gaping.

Sirigu had little to do for most of the match but was suddenly called into action within the space of a few minutes, keeping out shots from Daniel Wass and striker Yannick Sagbo.

Ancelotti said on Saturday that he was undecided whether he will stay next season. The Italian wants to wait until the end of the campaign before deciding, and the behavior of some of his players may hardly encourage him to stay.

A win would have moved fourth-place Saint-Etienne above Lyon in the chase for a European place, and the visitors scored in the 29th minute when center back Kurt Zouma headed in Yohan Mollo's corner.

Yoann Gourcuff, making a rare start for Lyon, equalized in the 55th after swapping passes with fellow midfielder Clement Grenier and flicking the ball past goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.

Ruffier made a point-blank save from Bakary Kone's header from a corner in the last seconds, moments after Saint-Etienne midfielder Mathieu Bodmer's goal-bound effort was blocked.

The draw leaves Saint-Etienne two points behind Lyon and one ahead of Lille as the race for third place.

"When you come to Lyon for a derby, it's always good to take a point," Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier said. "We're winning at home and we're not losing away. We will have to get a win (at home to) Bordeaux (next week) if we want to keep the pressure on the others."

Saint-Etienne, which won the League Cup last weekend, was playing its fifth match in 15 days, but did not look particularly jaded and top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went close several times after using his pace to make runs from deep.

Aubameyang, who has 19 league goals this season, went clean through either side of half time, but for once his finishing let him down as he put both shots wide.

"We created a lot of chances, but `Aubam' didn't have any luck today," Galtier said. "I think we could have scored more than one goal."

Also Sunday, sixth-place Nice beat Troyes 3-1.

Nice is level on points with fifth-place Lille, which has a better goal difference. Troyes remains in last place.

Marseille won 1-0 at Lorient on Saturday for its seventh straight match without conceding a goal.