PSG equals longest unbeaten run in French league
PARIS (AP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored both goals as leader Paris Saint-Germain equaled the longest unbeaten run in the French league with a 2-0 win at Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
PSG has not lost a league match since March last year and is now unbeaten in 32 games, a record set by Nantes 21 years ago.
The win extended PSG’s lead over second-place Monaco to 24 points after Laurent Blanc’s players overcame a strong resistance from Saint-Etienne in a lively encounter.
“We spoke a lot about that record, it added an extra motivation although the players don’t necessarily need that,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “We came here knowing it would be difficult. What stands out for me is that the team never gives up.”
As usual, the defending champions had most of the possession but struggled to find space against a well-organized Saint-Etienne side that pressed high on the pitch, amid a buoyant atmosphere at Geoffroy-Guichard stadium.
The hosts created the first half’s best chances and PSG keeper Kevin Trapp kept his team afloat with a double-save in the 11th minute before Jean-Christophe Bahebeck missed the target twice and Kevin Monnet-Paquet failed to convert a good pass from Bayal Sall while unmarked.
PSG’s first dangerous move came in the 35th when Angel Di Maria chipped the ball over the Saint-Etienne defenders to find Ibrahimovic, but the Sweden striker’s backheel shot was cleared by keeper Stephane Ruffier.
The game remained tense in the second half but PSG finally made the breakthrough soon after the hour-mark when Ibrahimovic connected with a cross from Serge Aurier near the penalty spot and beat Ruffier.
After Trapp made a fine diving save in the 88th to deny Jeremy Clement’s low shot, Ibrahimovic struck in stoppage time with a clean finish - taking his tally to 19 league goals this season.
Earlier, Ronny Rodelin and Andy Delort scored in a 2-0 victory over Nice that lifted Caen level on points with its Riviera opponents.
It was Caen’s first home win since November, and the second consecutive week that Rodelin and Delort made the scoresheet in the French league.
Nice and Caen both have 36 points, three fewer than second-place Monaco.
Rodelin opened the scoring with a precise shot at the near post in the 12th minute after the visitors gave the ball away in their own half. Delort made no mistake from the penalty sport after Saidi Ntibazinkia was fouled in the box in the 41st.
Caen keeper Remy Vercoutre had a good second half, denying Hatem Ben Arfa’s free kick and a last-minute effort from Alexandre Mendy.
“We made a big first half with two goals, then we suffered after the interval,” Caen coach Patrice Garande said.
After a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Lille in the League Cup semifinals midweek, Bordeaux recovered to extend its unbeaten run in the league to seven matches with an emphatic 4-0 win over Rennes.
Cheick Diabate scored twice before Diego Rolan and Thomas Toure added more luster to a win that puts the hosts back in the fight for the European places.