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PSG beats Saint-Etienne 2-0 in France

March 16, 2014

PARIS (AP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain beat Saint-Etienne 2-0 Sunday to retain its eight-point lead over Monaco at the top of the French league.

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with a low strike in the 14th minute before volleying home to double the lead in the 41st for his 25th league goal this season.

PSG stretched its winning streak to seven games in all competitions.

“We had the control of the game in the first half,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “Unconsciously, we wanted to protect our lead in the second half. We sat back a bit and gave a bit more space to Saint-Etienne.”

Saint-Etienne stayed in fourth place, five points behind Lille.

Elsewhere, Dimitar Berbatov scored a goal and made two assists to lead Monaco to a 3-2 win over fifth-place Lyon. Montpellier secured a precious point in the battle for safety by salvaging a 1-1 draw with Bordeaux.

Saint-Etienne threatened in the 13th, forcing PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu to turn a long-range strike from Franck Tabanou around the post. A minute later, PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi had a goal attempt blocked by Jeremy Clement, but Ibrahimovic pounced on the loose ball to net into the bottom corner.

Ibrahimovic and Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani missed the target from six yards in the 29th and 32nd, respectively. But the Sweden forward showed his flair in the box by beating goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier to the ball to flick home after Cavani’s cross took a deflection off Saint-Etienne defender Kurt Zouma.

“We didn’t really exist in the first half,” Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier said. “We didn’t manage to match PSG’s intensity. And we were punished from stupid turnovers.”

Saint-Etienne tried to rally in the second half but lacked the finishing touch. Benjamin Corgnet sent a rebound into the side-netting in the 48th and Josuha Guilavogui headed over the bar a free kick from Yohan Mollo in the 59th.

Sirigu preserved the win by stopping angled efforts from Moustapha Bayal Sall in the 52nd and Mevlut Erding in the 60th as well as a long-range strike from Romain Hamouma in stoppage time.

In Lyon, Berbatov proved a valuable winter signing for Monaco by setting up Valere Germain, who fired home from 12 yards to put the visitors ahead in the fourth minute. Berbatov then slipped the ball to Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez, who doubled the lead from close range in the 27th.

Lyon forward Jimmy Briand converted a cross from Miguel Lopes to pull one back in the 32nd, but Berbatov restored Monaco’s two-goal lead with a side-footed effort in the 52nd.

Briand volleyed home in the 78th to ensure a nervy finish.

“We’re disappointed,” Lyon midfielder Jordan Ferri said. “The referee was not helpful. He did not make the right calls.”

TV replays showed Berbatov was offside for his team’s second and third goals.

In Montpellier, Vitorino Hilton salvaged a point for the hosts with a header from Siaka Tiene’s free kick in the 34th. Brazilian defender Henrique initially gave Bordeaux the lead by heading home a corner from Gregory Sertic in the 24th.

“We could have won the match but we could have lost it too,” Montpellier coach Rolland Courbis said. “We content ourselves with that point. It was an average performance from both teams.”

Montpellier moved six points clear of the relegation zone whereas Bordeaux slipped to ninth place.

On Saturday, it was: Lille 0, Nantes 0; Ajaccio 1, Guingamp 2; Evian 0, Valenciennes 1; Nice 2, Bastia 0; Rennes 2, Toulouse 3; and Sochaux 2, Lorient 0.

Marseille drew 1-1 with Reims on Friday to remain in sixth place.

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