Despite one of the smallest budgets in the top flight, promoted Strasbourg produced the biggest upset in the French league so far by beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Saturday.
PARIS (AP) — Despite one of the smallest budgets in the top flight, promoted Strasbourg produced the biggest upset in the French league so far by beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Saturday.
Strasbourg, just above the relegation zone, inflicted on the super-rich Qatari-backed team its first loss in 22 matches in all competitions.
The northeastern side had only two chances and converted both while PSG wasted a lot in the second half after a poor start.
Strasbourg defended relentlessly during nine minutes of stoppage time, and became the first promoted team to beat PSG since Reims in 2013.
Edinson Cavani, the league top scorer with 17, started on the bench for PSG ahead of Champions League game at Bayern Munich. Angel Di Maria started alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
PSG coach Unai Emery also named Italy international Marco Verratti among the substitutes, replacing him with Javier Pastore in midfield. Without the two key players, PSG looked unbalanced early on and played at a pedestrian pace.
In freezing temperatures at La Meinau Stadium, Strasbourg applied an intense and physical press that prevented PSG from creating chances.
The deadlock was broken on a set-piece. PSG's defense was caught cold in the 13th minute when Nuno Da Costa beat the offside trap and found himself alone in front of goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to head home a free kick from Dimitri Lienard.
PSG's reaction was weak as Mbappe and Neymar struggled.
The league leaders had their first chance in the 17th when Mbappe came close with a back-heel shot off Pastore's pass that was blocked by Strasbourg goalkeeper Bingourou Kamara.
The visitors sped up the pace near the end of the first half and finally made the host crack after Di Maria wasted a superb pass from Neymar down the right. The Brazil star had a hand in his team's equalizer in the 42nd as he set up Adrien Rabiot with a short pass. The France midfielder crossed to Mbappe, who made no mistake from close range.
Pastore produced a classy move soon after but his shot on the turn from the edge of the area hit the post.
PSG had the upper hand after the interval but lacked a cutting edge as Mbappe fluffed a shot from a counterattack and Neymar sent a curled shot over the bar in the 53rd.
PSG was made to pay for its profligacy with 25 minutes left when Da Costa headed down a long kick from the goalkeeper into Stephane Bahoken's path. The forward sped past defender Yuri Berchiche and fired home from a close angle to send the home fans into rapture.
Cavani came in for the last 15 minutes and had a chance in added time when he headed a deflected shot but 'keeper Alexandre Oukidja, who replaced the injured Kamara, blocked his effort.
A mainstay of French football, Strasbourg has won the league title once as well as three French Cups and a couple of League Cup trophies. But the club encountered serious financial problems after being relegated to the second division in 2008 and entered liquidation in 2011. After years of instability, the club has restored a healthy financial model and gained promotion by winning the Ligue 2 last season.