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PSG

Ibrahimovic treble keeps PSG on track for title

PSG relied on their star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to maintain their five point gap over Monaco at the summit of Ligue 1 on Sunday when the Sweden international fired in a hat-trick against Toulouse. Catch up on the latest action from Ligue 1.

Ibrahimovic treble keeps PSG on track for title
PSG's main man Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring a penalty in his hat-trick against Toulouse on Sunday. Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP

A hat-trick by Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired French champions Paris Saint Germain to a 4-2 win over Toulouse on Sunday and their first away victory in Ligue 1 since January 11.

Ibrahimovic's treble – which took him to 22 goals in Ligue 1 this season – and one from Argentinian Ezequiel Lavezzi, Toulouse's two being scored by Wissam Ben Yedder – restored their five point lead over Monaco, who had beaten Reims 3-2 on Friday, and extended their unbeaten run in Ligue 1 to 10 games.

Lille overtook Saint Etienne and into third on 46 points after Sunday's late goalless draw with Lyon.

Toulouse remain 11 points above the relegation zone but without a home win since the end of November.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc, who selected the same starting XI as he had done for last Tuesday's 4-0 away win over Bayer Leverkusen in their Champions League Last 16 clash, said nothing surprised him about Ibrahimovic.

"He is not just a goalscorer he is also a formidable passer of the ball," said Blanc.

"I am not sure whether this is the best season of his career but the statistics are really impressive (he also has 10 goals in the Champions League)," added the 48-year-old.

Both sides took time to settle and created little of note until the hosts were presented with a clear chance to open the scoring but Danish international striker Martin Braithwaite made a complete mess of it by missing an open goal from half a yard out.

PSG made them pay for that as Uros Spajic took Ezequiel Lavezzi's legs from under him in a clumsy challenge on the half hour mark leaving the referee no choice but to book the Serbian and award a penalty.

Ibrahimovic duly drilled it down the middle to put them 1-0 up.

PSG went close to doubling their lead in the 38th minute as Blaise Matuidi stormed forward and saw his shot from the left side of the penalty area beat the 'keeper but come back off the post.

The visitors were then guilty of as bad a miss as Braithwaite's as Ibrahimovic worked some space on the left and put in a low cross which beat the 'keeper but Thiago Silva sent his effort from two yards out wide.

Toulouse took advantage of this let off as a minute from half-time an unmarked Ben Yedder levelled for the hosts with a super right-footed volley from Etienne Didot's cross.

PSG retook the lead in the 56th minute as Lavezzi scored with a smartly-taken shot inside the box after Ibrahimovic had torn through the Toulouse defence to pass to Matuidi, and though the latter's backheel failed

to come off it fooled the Toulouse defence and fell to the Argentinian who finished with aplomb.

The visitors put the result beyond doubt in the 68th minute as the outstanding Ibrahimovic – who had just had an outrageously bold long range effort tipped over the bar by Zacharie Boucher – rose to head home Yohan
Cabaye's freekick.

However, Toulouse pulled a goal back four minutes later as Braithwaite found Ben Yedder and he slotted the ball home, although he looked to be well offside, but despite PSG's protests the referee gave it.

Ibrahimovic finally put the game to bed three minutes from time as he knocked home the ball after his penalty had been saved by Boucher.

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FOOTBALL

‘Not football’s job’ to combat homophobia: French football chief

The head of French football has pulled away from a hardline stance against homophobic chanting and banners in stadiums on Friday, saying that "too many matches" have been stopped due to anti-gay abuse.

'Not football's job' to combat homophobia: French football chief
Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said that the FFF would not instruct referees to stop matches except in cases when a “whole stadium” was guilty of homophobic chanting.

“I think we're stopping too many matches! That makes certain government ministers happy, but it bothers me. Football can't be taken hostage by vulgarity,” said Le Graet in an interview with newspaper Ouest-France.

Several matches have been temporarily halted in France this season after the French football League (LFP) introduced over the summer plans to tackle fan homophobia during matches, including allowing referees to stop games.

“Matches have been stopped when they shouldn't have been,” Le Graet continued.

“We will stop them if there is consistent homophobic abuse from the whole ground, but if among 30,000 people there are 2,000 imbeciles I don't see why the other 28,000 should be punished.”

Le Graet referred to France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who in April launched the appeal for matches to be stopped in the event of homophobic abuse, and equalities minister Marlene Schiappa.

Schiappa publicly praised referee Clement Turpin after he stopped Marseille's 2-1 win at Nice for over 10 minutes last month following sustained abusive chanting and banners from home fans, but Le Graet insisted that it wasn't football's job to combat homophobia.

Paris Saint-Germain's match at Metz two days later was also briefly halted for a banner unfurled by the hosts' supporters asking the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

“Did football invent homophobia? You can be a know-it-all when you have got much to say. But there are more important political issues,” he said.

“This crisis will resolve itself. We will work with club presidents, people who don't stick their oar in every morning, who don't want to just look good in front of the television cameras.”

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