‘Le Classique’: Ten-man PSG beat Marseille

Zlatan Ibrahimovic cooly converted a penalty to give PSG a 2-1 win over their bitter rivals Marseille in 'Le Classique' on Sunday. PSG's win sees them stay level on points with Monaco at the top of Ligue 1. Here's a round-up of all the action from Ligue 1.

'Le Classique': Ten-man PSG beat Marseille
Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring the winner for PSG against Marseille in Sunday's 'Classique'. Photo: Bertran Langlois/AFP

Paris Saint-Germain hit back from a goal down and being reduced to 10 men to beat bitter rivals Marseille 2-1 Sunday and move onto the shoulders of Ligue 1 leaders Monaco.

The defending champions trailed to a first-half penalty scored by Ghana's Andre Ayew.

They also had Thiago Motta red-carded for a foul which led to the spot-kick.

But Maxwell levelled on the stroke of half-time before skipper Zlatan Ibrahimovic slotted home a second-half penalty to silence the Stade Velodrome crowd and preserve PSG's unbeaten start to the season.

PSG have 21 points but trail Monaco on goal difference while Marseille drop to fourth behind Lille on goal difference, four points off the lead.

Marseille had lost just one of their last nine home meetings with PSG and they were the better side for most of the opening period.

Mathieu Valbuena saw a 12th-minute free-kick guided around the post by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

The PSG keeper was called upon again in the 20th minute pulling off a fine double save to deny Jordan Ayew, playing instead of Andre-Pierre Gignac, and the lively Valbuena.

Marseille were in front in controversial circumstances just after the half-hour mark when Motta was penalised for bringing down Valbuena in the area.

The clumsy challenge earned Motta a red card while in the lengthy protest that followed midfielder Marco Verratti was booked.

Motta's dismissal was the 18th red card handed out by referee Clement Turpin in the official's last 26 matches.

Andre Ayew kept his cool in the mayhem to score from the penalty spot.

But PSG were level on the stroke of half-time with Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda at fault.

Dutch full-back Gregory van der Wiel crossed from the right and the ball fell perfectly for Maxwell to beat a flailing, stranded Mandanda with a strong header.

Just after the hour, Dmitri Payet unleashed a powerful, swerving drive that Sirigu flapped away as Marseille looked to make their one-man advantage count.

But it was PSG who were celebrating in the 66th minute when they were awarded a penalty for Andre Ayew's needless challenge on Marquinhos who was heading away from the danger zone.

Up stepped Ibrahimovic to calmly steer home the penalty for his third goal of the Ligue 1 campaign.

The win also extended PSG's overall unbeaten record to 20 games in Ligue 1, a run stretching back to a 1-0 loss at Reims on March 2.

Beleaguered Lyon's desperate form continued as the former Ligue 1 giants fell 5-1 at Montpellier.

Remi Garde's side have won just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions.

Club president Jean-Michel Aulas admitted that the team are in "crisis" but blamed a string of injuries among their defence for their poor form.

Jean Fernandez's Montpellier could largely thank the double act of strikers Victor Hugo Montano and Remy Cabella for their success.

Colombian striker Montano scored his third goal of the season after 16 minutes and just before the break Anthony Mounier added a second with a header.

Lyon reduced the deficit just after the break when Alexandre Lacazette found the net.

Cabella converted a penalty after 59 minutes and scored a second seven minutes later. He then set up Montano (68) for his second.

Lyon, who won the last of their seven-consecutive titles in 2008, are four points above the drop zone.

Monaco had gone three points clear at the top on Saturday after a late

Lucas Ocampos winner gave them a 2-1 victory over Saint-Etienne.

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Why France might not be too sad to see Ibrahimovic go

While PSG fans will no doubt lament the departure of a legend, many in France won't be too sad to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic walk away, because he earned and said far too much.

Why France might not be too sad to see Ibrahimovic go
All Photos: AFP

“I came as a king and left as a legend”

Ibrahimovic’s announcement on Twitter that he was to leave PSG was classic cocky Zlatan – the same Zlatan who once told a journalist that he was “looking at God”.

Bags of goals, four league titles and several cups mean fans of PSG will no doubt agree with Zlatan’s own analysis of his stature.

Apart perhaps from those who think he under performed in the big matches like every Champions League quarter final PSG played in before getting knocked out.

But Ibrahimovic had a different relation with the rest of France, especially the newly elected Socialist government with whom he made enemies as soon as stepped off the plane from Milan in the summer of 2012.

His initial salary of €14 million a year (which recently rocketed to €1.5 million a month) – by far the most ever paid to a French player had MPs in a froth. At a time when France was struggling with unemployment, Ibrahimovic and his salary represented everything that wrong with the world.

While some rejoiced in the fact he would be paying the notorious 75 percent tax on much of his earnings, a former sports minister said it was “disgusting”, another said “deplorable” and ex-Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac (pictured below) described the pay as “indecent”.

Although to be fair to Ibrahimovic, he doesn’t have to take any merde from Cahuzac, the minister who admitted hiding hundreds of thousands of euros away in a secret Swiss bank account. Now that’s indecent.

Of course a few outbursts from a few politicians were hardly going to knock the mighty Ibrahimovic out of his giant stride, but maybe the snipings did get to him.

In a famous rant, that unfortunately for Zlatan was caught on camera, he called France a “shit” country that “didn’t deserve” his club PSG.

Once again it was politicians who came off the bench to attack the man-bunned Swede.

Insulting France was never likely to go down well with the far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who invited Ibrahimovic to pack his bags.

“Those who consider France a shit country can leave,” she said.

Jerome Guedj, a leading Socialist party politician, called the remarks “unacceptable”. “Let him play football and shut up, or at least be respectful of this country, the football supporters who were also insulted.”

To be fair to the player himself, he later apologised.

“My words were not targeting France or the French people. I was speaking about football and nothing else,” the apologetic striker said.

But it wasn’t the first time Ibrahimovic had upset the locals, indeed he regularly broke the golden rule foreigners need to observe in France – being complimentary to your hosts, at least in public.

Here’s what he once said about Parisians:

“I don’t know what they want. We win, we lose and they whistle.

“Maybe they are used to eating caviar before they come to the match,” he said.

But it wasn’t just his money or his mouth that made him somewhat unpopular in France, there were other traits that hardly endeared him to the locals.

For a start the French love someone who will at least make an attempt with their language.

Zlatan, it can be said, was hardly an enthusiastic student as one web joker pointed as he mocked Zlatan over his “King, legend” Tweet.

“He came with no French, he left with no French.”

The rant against France was in English, as was his final tweet and most press conferences, but to be fair he did attempt to speak French once on television, much to the enjoyment of his giggling teammates (see below).

Then there was his arrogance, which might be judged a valuable quality in Paris, but outside the capital, arrogance isn’t really as welcomed as you might think.

Ibrahimovic was so cocky that when he suggested Paris should pull down the Eiffel Tower and replace it with a statue of himself, most believed he was being serious.

The player made it pretty clear from the very beginning of his time at PSG that France’s Ligue 1 was simply too small fry for him although he was prepared to put up with it.

“I don’t know a lot about Ligue 1, but Ligue 1 knows exactly who I am,” was what he said when he first arrived in France.

Another famous Parisian trait he picked up was the love of a good moan.

He apparently grew frustrated by having to stay in the luxury Grand Hotel (see below) as he struggled to find a suitable apartment in Paris.

Granted we can all sympathise with him when it comes to the nightmare of flat-hunting in Paris, apart from the fact he was looking for a palace, not a 30 square metre flat with a separate kitchen and toilet if possible.

The striker's flat-hunting ordeal went on for months until Le Parisien newspaper reported that in December last year he finally found the apartment he had been looking for (or three of them to be precise, which he was going to knock together).

Ibrahimovic will also not be lamented too much by France’s feminists.  When asked about the role of his wife in his career, he said: “My wife stays at home to look after my kids. It’s the only thing I need her to do.”

So while Zlatan Ibrahimovic the player will no doubt leave France as a legend, Zlatan the man, might not (well apart from his tax revenues).

Although as one PSG fan pointed out, all the reasons presented above are exactly why Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be missed in France, even if not everyone will admit it.