Ligue 1 roundup

Valenciennes delays PSG's celebration

May 5, 2013
By Associated Press

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain's title hopes were put on hold after a 1-1 draw at home to Valenciennes on Sunday, meaning Marseille still has a small chance of overtaking its bitter rival with three matches remaining.

A win would have all but guaranteed PSG a first title since 1994, and a third overall, but Valenciennes came to play attacking football and scored through midfielder Gael Danic early in the first half. Center half Alex equalized in the 83rd when he headed in powerfully from a corner.

PSG center half Thiago Silva was sent off late in the first half for putting his hands on the chest of the referee as he contested a decision.

With three matches remaining, PSG is seven points ahead of Marseille but next faces a difficult trip to third-place Lyon, while Marseille hosts Toulouse.

Silva's sending off came after three PSG players were red-carded last weekend.

Midfielders David Beckham, Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti and `keeper Salvatore Sirigu were all suspended, and now Silva is set to miss next weekend's crucial trip to Lyon after referee Alexandre Castro showed him a straight red in the 42nd.

PSG sporting director Leonardo could also be in trouble after appearing to deliberately barge into Castro in the tunnel after the

game.

Silva appeared to lightly push Castro in the chest, and although there was not much aggression on Silva's part, both of his hands were on the referee.

PSG missed chances as top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic tried an extravagent backheel that went wide, and midfielder Javier Pastore drew a smart save from Nicolas Penneteau with a rising shot.

Then, with a quick break, Valenciennes caught PSG cold and the ball was moved quickly up to forward Vincent Aboubakar, whose shot was palmed away by Douchez. But Danic was lurking nearby and confidently slotted in the rebound.

Valenciennes continued to attack PSG in the second half and goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez tipped away Kenny Lala's shot in the 65th.

Ibrahimovic almost leveled shortly after when he drilled a shot just wide and kicked the advertising hoardings in frustration, and Penneteau then kept out a shot from Pastore and a header from center half Alex.

Ibrahimovic was booked after the match for launching a verbal tirade at Castro -- something the Swede has done several times this season.

Earlier, Lyon strengthened its grip on third place with a convincing 3-0 win at Nancy to stay three points ahead of Nice in the race for a Champions League place.

Bafetimbi Gomis came off the bench to score twice for Lyon, after Argentine striker Dario Cvitanich had also got a brace for Nice which earlier won 3-0 at Rennes to move one point ahead of Saint-Etienne and into fourth.

"We knew it would be hard against a team in form, Gomis did really well when he came on," Lyon coach Remi Garde said. "The attitude and the desire to never give up shown by those who started the game, and those who came on, made the difference."

But Gomis was unhappy at being left on the bench, with 18-year-old Yassine Benzia starting ahead of him.

"I would rather start the game as I am trying to get into the France team. But sometimes the coach makes choices and you have to accept it, even though it's not easy," Gomis said. "We're in the home stretch and all the points are important now."

The race for Europe is set to intensify with Nice hosting Lyon in two weeks' time.

"We're still in it, that's good. When you're in a good position, you have to keep going," Nice coach Claude Puel said. "There are still nine points up for grabs, which is very few and a lot at the same time."

Nancy had won five out of the past eight matches to climb out of the relegation zone, but crumbled after the interval. Nancy is in 17th place, just one point and one place above Evian.

Gomis replaced Lisandro Lopez up front at halftime, and planted a shot into the bottom corner soon after coming on.

Yoann Gourcuff continued his return to form with his second goal in consecutive games and then set up Gomis' 16th of the campaign.

Earlier, Cvitanich took his league tally this season to 17 - making him the third-highest scorer in Ligue 1.