Minus Ibra, PSG come unstuck
PARIS (AFP) –
Paris Saint Germain, labouring in the absence of the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic, slid to a demoralising 2-1 home loss to Rennes on Saturday – despite the visitors being reduced to nine men.
PSG began the day top of the table but level on points with Marseille, who are in action Sunday at Bordeaux and have played two games less than their bitter rivals.
But this dismal showing suggests the capital club, runners-up last season to Montpellier, have some way to go if they are to make a serious fist of going one better this time round and winning their first league crown since 1994.
This loss came on the back of another two weeks ago at the Parc des Princes against former giants Saint Etienne – but even in the absence of Sweden star Ibrahimovic it was far more galling for coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose side have now dropped eight points from their past three games.
Ancelotti was furious afterwards.
“It’s incredible – we didn’t have a good attitude out there. We’ve just lost two matches at home and that’s not on for a team which wants to win the championship.
“We are not yet a team – we have to change something and I shall do so. Something wil change – the attitude of the players will change. I am very annoyed,” said the Italian.
A splendid half volley from Romain Alesandrini put Rennes into a 13th-minute lead with his fourth goal of the season – his first in the top flight.
Brazilian forward Nene, returning a month on from fracturing his cheekbone, levelled midway through the first half and that should have seen PSG seize the initiative – particularly since Benoit Costil was dismissed on 25 minutes for a foul on Jeremy Menez.
Rennes should have been reeling after Cameroon midfielder Jean II Makoun also went for an early bath seven minutes after the restart for a second booking.
Instead, Rennes were by that stage leading again, Julien Feret having whipped in a freekick ten minutes before the break past keeper Salvatore Sirigu.
Despite their numerical advantage PSG were unable to conjure an equaliser, making a mockery of their added financial muscle relative to their Ligue 1 rivals, the Qatari-bankrolled club having spent 140 millions euros on a summer transfer splurge.
Javier Pastore did hit the post and Guillaume Hoarau the bar but the visitors rode their luck and held on.
For Rennes it was their third straight win as the Bretons went joint third with Lyon just a point behind PSG.
“There is a God – and he was with Rennes tonight,” exulted Rennes defender Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik afterwards.
Coach Frederic Antonetti praised his players for being in his words “heroic and fantastic in extreme conditions. I hope we can crack on from this and use it as the launchpad for something.”
Actress Salma Hayek, the wife of Rennes’ owner François-Henri Pinault, told Canal television: “I am very proud, very happy – it was heroic as PSG are a fine team and Rennes played so well.”
Marseille have the chance to put distance between themselves and PSG if they can overcome their own manifold inconsistencies to make best use of their two games in hand – including their trip to Bordeaux, who will be motivated by the knowledge that they could themselves go top with a victory.
Lyon host Reims, in midtable after promotion, on Sunday as they look to claim a first title since 2008 – the last of their unprecedented seven in a row.
Later Saturday, Montpellier, looking to drag themselves further away from the drop zone after a poor opening third of the season, were in action at Valenciennes.