PARIS: Monaco ruined Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 title celebrations as a clinical second-half performance gave the principality side a 2-0 victory at the Parc des Princes on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
PSG wrapped up a fourth consecutive league title in record time with eight matches to spare by thrashing Troyes 9-0 a week ago, but they were uncharacteristically flat in the capital.
After a drab opening 45 minutes it was the visitors who turned on the style, as Vagner Love’s fourth goal for the club gave them a deserved 65th-minute lead.
A David Luiz error gave Monaco a penalty that was coolly converted by Fabinho just three minutes later, as PSG slumped to just a second league defeat of the season, and a first at home since May 2014.
The victory is a timely one for Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco in the race for the top three and the Champions League, as they stay second in the table and now have the cushion of a six-point gap back to fourth-placed Lyon.
“This is a very important victory, but in getting this the team has actually only maintained our gap to our competitors,” Jardim said.
“Paris is a big team, one of the top four in Europe, and they could win the Champions League. My players played a great game. In football, you have not won or lost before the match, everything is played on the pitch.”
PSG manager Laurent Blanc selected an attacking line-up, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Lucas Moura and Angel Di Maria all starting on a night when the home fans expected to party.
But they started slowly, and the hosts’ frustration at their lackluster opening half an hour was clear, as Cavani thumped the turf in anger after ballooning an acrobatic effort well wide.
PSG improved in the minutes before half-time, with Cavani heading a Marquinhos cross wastefully off target when totally unmarked.
The visitors grew in confidence in the second period and home keeper Kevin Trapp had to beat clear Fabinho’s drive after a mistake by Luiz, before the German also had to save well at his near post from Thomas Lemar.
PSG were pleasing the crowd with plenty of neat tricks and flicks, but rarely looked like breaking their opponents down.
While Blanc’s men appeared to be resting on their record-breaking efforts from last week, there was a hunger and desire about Champions League-chasing Monaco that brought the opening goal.
Some quick passing released Lemar, who crossed low to the back post to give Love a simple tap-in with Trapp out of the picture.
Less than two minutes later and the principality side were gifted the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot.
Another horror-show in the PSG defense culminated in Luiz pulling back Fabinho, and the Brazilian full-back picked himself up to calmly chip his spot-kick down the middle.
Unsurprisingly PSG pushed forward in numbers and, after Subasic had brilliantly clawed away a Cavani header, Ibrahimovic somehow contrived to head the ball over the top from two yards out with the goal at his mercy.
It was not Ibrahimovic’s day, the league’s top scorer was left red-faced again after volleying over an unguarded net from point-blank range.
Monaco held on in the face of heavy pressure to record a first win against PSG in over six years.
Blanc said that his side’s missed chances were the key, and played down suggestions that his men had eased off after winning the title.
“In the first half we created many chances, we controlled the game against a very defensive team,” he said.
“I do not feel as though there was a party tonight, we will celebrate the title when we receive the trophy on the final day.”
Hatem Ben Arfa’s latest breathtaking strike set Nice up for a 3-0 win over struggling Gazelec Ajaccio that keeps them in contention for a surprise top-three finish.
Ben Arfa collected possession wide on the right and skipped away from two challenges as he cut into the box before curling a shot beyond goalkeeper Clement Maury to set Nice on their way in the 14th minute at the Allianz Riviera.
He then turned provider for Alassane Plea to make it 2-0 and Ivorian midfielder Jean-Michael Seri wrapped up the victory late on.
Bordeaux were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Bastia in their first match since Willy Sagnol was sacked and replaced in the dugout by club legend Ulrich Rame.