France: PSG edges Lille to reclaim lead
PARIS (AP) -- Paris Saint-Germain needed a fortuitous own goal from center back Aurelien Chedjou to earn a 1-0 win against Lille on Sunday and move back to the top of the French league.
Lille had what seemed to be a legitimate goal from forward Ronny Rodelin ruled out late in the first half as PSG struggled to create chances. PSG failed to get going in the second half, but scored in the 68th when goalkeeper Steeve Elana palmed away a cross and the ball bounced back off Chedjou's chest and went in.
"I don't have any regrets concerning the way my players played,'' Lille coach Rudi Garcia said, lamenting Lille's disallowed goal. "I won't go on about it but I don't think PSG needs this kind of thing to win. If we'd opened the scoring I don't think it would have been the same match.''
Substitute Tulio De Melo struck the post shortly after as Lille went close to equalizing, but PSG held on to move ahead of Lyon on goal difference, with both teams locked on 45 points after 22 matches.
After top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic scuffed his shot and gave Elana an easy save, PSG then got a reprieve when Rodelin headed in from a corner in the 37th but the linesman disallowed it, even though replays showed there was no offside - as left back Maxwell was covering Nolan Roux - and no foul in the buildup to the goal.
PSG went straight up the other end and Ibrahimovic hit a powerful first-time shot from 25 yards which hit the post.
PSG had to wait until the 61st for another scoring chance, only for Lille center half Marko Basa to move swiftly across and block winger Ezequiel Lavezzi's shot.
Lille almost equalized in the 73rd when Rodelin picked out Dimitri Payet in the penalty area and his first-time shot was too close to goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, who managed to push it away.
De Melo then struck the inside of the post after Payet had set him up as PSG survived another lucky escape.
"We had some luck in this game. A lot of times you don't have any so we're happy to take the three points,'' PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "You can't always play great football, but the essential thing is to stay solid and win. It's true that we didn't play well, but we managed to beat a good team. The players have won nine out of the past 10 matches, so I take my hat off to them.''
Although PSG's expensively assembled team has yet to show the attacking spark its fans so crave, the defense remains solid, and Sirigu set a new club record after his eighth consecutive league game without conceding a goal. Sirigu has kept a clean sheet for 775 minutes and surpassed Bernard Lama's PSG record of 697 minutes.
"It was difficult right until the end, that's what football is about and makes this sport great,'' Sirigu said. "I'd heard about the record, people spoke to me about it during the week, but I didn't want to think about it too much and put myself under pressure.''
Earlier, forward Henri Saivet scored the winning goal as Bordeaux won 1-0 at Nice to move above its rival on goal difference and into fifth place, and Saint-Etienne beat Bastia 3-0 to climb up to seventh spot. Former champion Lille is in 11th place.
Saivet struck in the 58th minute, controlling Jaroslav Plasil's pass and firing a quick shot inside the front post.
Neal Maupay, Nice's 16-year-old striker, almost equalized in the 64th when he clipped the ball over goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso but saw his effort bounce back off the crossbar and cleared by Bordeaux's defense.
"We came up against a solid team. They tackled well and were tactically disciplined and stopped us developing our game,'' Nice coach Claude Puel said. "We put in a lot of effort in the first half and maybe we paid for it in the second. Perhaps a draw was a fairer result given that we only made one mistake and conceded only one chance. It's a shame.''
Earlier, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended his 12-game scoring drought as Saint-Etienne beat Bastia 3-0 to move up to seventh spot.
The 23-year-old Aubameyang had not scored since Nov. 10 and he wrapped up the victory when he scored the second goal after Brazilian striker Brandao had given Saint-Etienne an early lead. Midfielder Joshua Guilavogui added a third late on for the home side.
Brandao struck in the eighth minute, turning in Fabien Lemoine's cross from the right as Bastia's defense failed to clear the ball properly, and Aubameyang made it 2-0 in the 79th as he ran onto Guilavogui's pass behind the defense and finished confidently.
Aubameyang returned the favor when he set up Guilavogui to complete the scoring in the 85th.
"Obviously it's annoying not to score for so long. But I'm happy tonight,'' Aubameyang said. "That goal is for everyone who doubted me.''