France: Lorient shuts out Saint-Etienne
PARIS (AP) -- Blaise Matuidi headed in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's cross late in first-half stoppage time as Paris Saint-Germain beat Lyon 1-0 on Sunday to move above its title rival and into first place in the French league.
PSG, Lyon and third-place Marseille are all locked on 35 points after 18 matches, but PSG has the better goal difference as it seeks to win its first league title since the 1993-94 season.
"The team is much more solid now,'' PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "The first half was difficult for us, but we were much better in the second half and we could have scored again. Lyon is a solid team with a lot of character and will surely compete for the title.''
Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez hit the post with an instinctive volley in the 27th minute, and his team looked the better side until it was caught out with a classic counterattack goal as it pushed forward in numbers.
"I still believe the team is on the right track,'' Lyon coach Remi Garde said, lamenting the absence of injured creative midfielders Yoann Gourcuff and Clement Grenier. "We hit the post when it was 0-0.''
Earlier, Lorient won 2-0 at Saint-Etienne to move into fourth place and last-place Nancy drew 1-1 at home with Bordeaux.
PSG won its past two league games 4-0 to bounce back from a miserable run of league form in which it lost three games in five. After a cagey opening at Parc des Princes, PSG had the first shot on target in the 13th when Javier Pastore collected a pass near the penalty spot and forced Remy Vercoutre into a fine save.
Lyon's first effort came in the 23rd but it was only a half-chance for Bafetimbi Gomis as he poked at the ball under pressure from center half Mamadou Sakho and goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu made an easy save.
Four minutes later, Lyon almost scored when Lopez ran onto midfielder Gueida Fofana's superb 40-yard pass over the top of the defense and hit a volley at full stretch which beat Sirigu and bounced off the post.
"The match changed when Lisandro hit the post because we scored straight after,'' PSG right back Christophe Jallet said. "But we haven't conceded a goal for three matches now and that is a good sign.''
Lyon looked like scoring again in the 45th when Michel Bastos burst forward and passed it to Lopez on the edge of the penalty area, but he lost the ball. PSG midfielder Thiago Motta picked up the loose ball and prodded it to Ibrahimovic on the right, and he skipped past Dejan Lovren before whipping in a quick cross from the right which Matuidi headed home.
"It's a shame that we conceded the goal,'' Gomis said. "It was a blow on head for us as I think we would have done well in the second half.''
PSG soaked up pressure early in the second half until winger Jeremy Menez led a quick break in the 60th and passed to Ezequiel Lavezzi on the left, but the Argentine's cross was cut out just before it landed at Ibrahimovic's feet.
Vercoutre then did well to tip over a sharp angled drive from Pastore; Jallet shot just wide in the 78th after picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area, and Vercoutre then did well to stand up and block Pastore's shot moments later as PSG pushed for a second goal.
Earlier, resurgent Lorient sealed a fourth straight victory, with forward Jeremie Aliadiere and midfielder Alain Traore both scoring.
Aliadiere put Lorient ahead in the 20th minute with his seventh league goal of the season, and Traore made it 2-0 shortly before the break with his sixth.
Although Nancy remains in last place and is seven points from safety, the team is showing encouraging signs of form, having drawn 1-1 away to French leader Lyon last weekend.
Nancy will feel it should have won after taking the lead through Djamel Bakar's header in the 32nd minute, and then playing the second half with an extra man after Bordeaux midfielder Andre Biyogo Poko was sent off just before halftime.
But seventh-place Bordeaux equalized in the 76th through forward Henri Saivet, who struck the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the penalty area.
"It's very disappointing to draw, even though it was a fair result when you look at the whole match,'' Nancy coach Jean Fernandez said. "We played well up until our first goal, and then we were completely disjointed in the second half and hardly created a chance.''
Saint-Etienne has dropped down to eighth spot after drawing two and losing two of its past four league games without scoring a goal.