Ligue 1: PSG takes top spot with win over minnows Ajaccio
PARIS (AP) — Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain moved to the top of the French league after beating Gazelec Ajaccio 2-0 on Sunday in a match pitting the biggest and smallest budgets in the division.
PSG's annual budget of 500 million euros ($555 million) dwarfs Gazelec's 14 million euros ($15.6 million), but after goals from midfielder Blaise Matuidi and center half Thiago Silva in the first 21 minutes, PSG struggled to put chances away.
PSG has six points from two matches and leads Reims and Normandy side Caen on goal difference.
Earlier, Marseille's turbulent season got worse with a 1-0 loss away to Reims, after conceding an early goal and finishing the match with 10 men.
In Sunday's other match, Lorient drew 1-1 at home to Bastia.
Corsican side Gazelec's tiny stadium has a capacity of 4,800 — 10 times less than PSG's Parc des Princes — while coach Thierry Laurey's monthly salary of 20,000 euros is 25 times less than his PSG counterpart Laurent Blanc's.
PSG paraded new signing Angel di Maria, who cost 63 million euros ($69 million), before the home fans, but the Argentina winger sat out the match with a thigh injury.
With star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic also sidelined with an ankle injury, 18-year-old Paris-born striker Jean-Kevin Augustin started his first game for the club.
PSG's incessant early pressure paid off in the 12th minute when Silva's cross was poorly dealt with and Matuidi reacted quickest to lash a shot past goalkeeper Clement Maury. Then, Silva made it 2-0 in the 22nd with a thumping header from midfielder Thiago Motta's corner, and Augustin went close with a header in a one-sided first half.
Edinson Cavani, who cost 64 million euros ($71.2 million) when he joined PSG from Napoli two years ago, flashed a header over the crossbar midway through the second half and then had another header saved by Maury.
Notoriously volatile Marseille was thrown into turmoil last weekend when coach Marcelo Bielsa resigned moments after a home defeat to Caen, despite pledging days earlier that he was about to sign a two-year contract.
Bielsa's resignation has shocked the club, especially as he became hugely popular with fans who know feel they have been completely betrayed by the Argentine coach.
President Vincent Labrune, who is scouting around for Bielsa's replacement, paid tribute to the "exceptional attitude of the Marseille fans" during Sunday's match.
At Reims, nestled in France's famed Champagne region, Marseille's club owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus and her son Kyri attended the match. But there was little to toast after another disappointing result for nine-time champion Marseille, the only French club to win the European Cup, in 1993.
Led by caretaker coach Franck Passi, a former Marseille defender, the visitors fell behind when Mali defender Hamari Traore scored in the 14th minute, pouncing on a poorly cleared corner to chest down the loose ball before beating goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with a half-volley.
"It's disappointing, we could have given a better account of ourselves," Passi said. "We started the match too timidly and we lacked impact up front."
Bastia fell short of a first ever win at Lorient when striker Benjamin Moukandjo's last-minute penalty cancelled out forward Floyd Ayite's early goal for the visitors.