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FOOTBALL

PSG maintain title march against valiant Lorient

Paris Saint-Germain, fresh from drawing Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-finals, maintained their march to a defence of their Ligue 1 title with a 1-0 win over spirited Lorient on Friday.

PSG maintain title march against valiant Lorient
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

Thiago Motta's first half goal was all that split the two teams with the valiant mid-table hosts giving Laurent Blanc's side plenty of nervy moments in Brittany.

The hard fought win on Lorient's artificial pitch at their Stade du Moustoir extended PSG's crushing lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 11 points, with second-placed Monaco in action on Sunday against third-placed Lille.

"We can't always win 3,4 or 5-0. We must congratulate the players even if it was not an extraordinary performance," said Blanc, who insisted that his team had not been distracted by their impending clash with Chelsea.

"All reporters believe that we have talked of nothing but Chelsea, that it's difficult to think of Lorient. But tonight we were at the Moustoir, not at Stamford Bridge."

For PSG, who prevailed despite not being at the top of their game, this success was their sixth in a row in Ligue 1 and their eighth on the trot in all competitions.

The one sore point for Blanc was the injury suffered by captain Thiago Silva, who had to come off early on in the first half.

Blanc elected to field Brazilian Marquinhos in place of his compatriot Alex in central defence, with Marco Verratti regaining his place in midfield from Yohan Cabaye after a two-game absence.

Christophe Jallet came in for the injured right back Gregory Van der Wiel against his former club.

On the right Blanc preferred Ezequiel Lavezzi to Lucas.

Lorient kept the champions-in-waiting at bay until the 41st minute, when in a move inspired by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Motta broke the deadlock.

Ibrahimovic conjured up an exquisite back-heeled flick of the ball to Edinson Cavani down the left, with the Uruguayan returning the favour for the Swede to attempt a close range angled shot.

The star striker's attempt was denied by Lorient keeper Fabien Audard but Motta was on hand to pounce on the loose ball, the Brazilian-born Italian only having to nudge it over Audard's goal line.

Ibrahimovic by this point was wearing the captain's armband having inherited it from Silva, who was forced to come off in the 24th minute after receiving an accidental knock in the face from Vincent Aboubakar's elbow in an airborne duel.

Alex came on in his fellow Brazilian's place.

PSG enjoyed almost three quarters of the possession in the first half and would have been relieved to have reaped the one goal reward.

Lorient emerged for the restart with fire in their bellies, and Jerome Aliadière should have done better when blazing his effort high over the PSG cross bar.

On the hour, Verratti ceded his place to Cabaye, as Lorient's Aliadière paid for his lack of precision shooting, making way for Sadio Diallo.

Only Audard's reflex action and a large slice of luck kept out Jallet's tight-angled shot on the right from doubling PSG's lead with quarter of an hour remaining.

PSG held on despite a couple of late scares, notably when midfielder Bryan Pele had the ball in the back of the PSG net only for his effort to be deemed offside.

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FOOTBALL

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage

French prosecutors on Friday called for a 15-year prison sentence for one of two Russians accused of beating a British supporter during Euro 2016, an attack that left him with brain injuries.

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage
Russian fans light flares at the match against England in 2016.. Photo: AFP

One prosecutor, Christophe Raffin, asked for the “legal maximum… between 14 and 15 years” for Pavel Kossov, who is accused of throwing the first punch at 55-year-old Andrew Bache.

Bache was injured in the violence that broke out before England played Russia in the southern French port city of Marseille on June 11th, 2016.

The second Russian on trial in Aix-en-Provence, Mikhail Ivkine, stands accused of throwing a chair at the victim, with prosecutors asking for a potential suspended sentence of up to five years.

He has claimed he was defending himself.

“No, it wasn't legitimate self-defence, it was illegitimate use of force against Andrew Bache,” Raffin said of the violence.

 

Police give emergency aid to Andrew Bache following clashes in the city of Marseille. Photo: AFP

The prosecutors said the Russians were part of a group of about 150 men, many with martial arts training, who wrought havoc in Marseille.

Bache, from Portsmouth in southern England, has no memory of the events and is too frail to attend the trial.

His son Harry, who nurses his father, is representing him in court.

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