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LIGUE 1 ROUND-UP

MONACO

PSG fluff chance to go top after rivals lose

PSG missed an opportunity to go top of Ligue 1 at the weekend after rivals Lyon and Marseille both lost. But in Sunday's late match the French champions could only manage a draw against Monaco, last week's slayers of Arsenal.

PSG fluff chance to go top after rivals lose
PSG's Javier Pastore and Edinson Cavani look frustrated as their side are unable to overcome Monaco and go top of Ligue 1. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Paris Saint-Germain fluffed their chance to go atop the French league with a frustrating 0-0 draw at Monaco on Sunday.

Ligue 1 leaders Lyon suffered their first defeat in 12 matches on Saturday, going down 2-1 at Lille to leave second-placed PSG trailing by just two points with a game in hand.

But the Parisians failed to capitalise on their domination of in-form Monaco, who managed an impressive 10th clean sheet in their last 11 league matches.

"We largely played well but in football you have to turn domination into goals," moaned PSG coach Laurent Blanc.

"Scoring goals is the hardest thing in football and perhaps some of our players don't do it enough.

"We had five or six chances tonight but we didn't manage to get one on target or to score one."

Blanc added: "We'll see at the end of the season if this will cost us. Given how we played, one point is not enough."

The opening chance of the night fell PSG's way after 15 minutes. However, Marco Verratti's lack of height showed as he failed to get his head on a swinging Ezequiel Lavezzi cross nodded on by Fabinho with the goal beckoning.

PSG continued to press and when Lavezzi found Javier Pastore in the box, the Argentinian back-heeled the ball into the path of Edinson Cavani.

Showing great control, the Uruguayan hitman — scorer of PSG's goal in their 1-1 Champions League draw with Chelsea 10 days ago — struck a sweet half-volley magnificently turned away by Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

Lavezzi was gifted a prime opportunity to open the scoring in the 25th minute after Monaco captain Jeremy Toulalan drifted in defence, but the Argentinian, to his own evident horror, could only poke the ball wide.

With the Monaco defenders standing off, Lavezzi fired another shot just wide of Subasic's left post as some slick passing opened up the left wing on the counter-attack.

Spiteful battle

With both teams getting bogged down in an increasingly spiteful midfield battle, Monaco's first real chance of the game came in the 35th minute.

Ferreira Carrasco held off PSG skipper Thiago Silva down the left, managing to turn and cross to Moutinho, whose underhit swivelled first-time shot fell safely into Salvatore Sirigu's hands.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc was left hitting his dugout in frustration on the stroke of half-time as Cavani blasted high to wrap up a first half that showed much promise but no reward for the capital side.

There was more to follow early in the second period, first Pastore firing straight at Subasic and then Blaise Matuidi seeing his effort drift wide.

Toulalan was on hand to snuffle out a dangerous Pastore as he surged into the Monaco box with the visiting side dominating possession.

The Argentinian went close moments later after a pin-point through ball from Verratti, but his attempted chip drifted right under pressure from a fast-advancing Subasic.

A toothless Monaco looked a different side from the one which has lost just one of their last 10 Ligue 1 matches and who was last week 3-1 victors over English heavyweights Arsenal in the Champions League.

Two half-hearted attacks were easily dealt with by PSG as the flow of the game slowed going into the last quarter.

But the home side held out to frustrate a PSG side that failed tocapitalise after dominating much of the match.

Earlier Sunday, Nice found the back of the net for the first time in five games but couldn't keep their lead in a 2-1 defeat against Montpellier.

And a Yacine Bammou strike offered Nantes their first win of 2015 when they beat Guingamp 1-0 in a hard-fought Brittany derby.

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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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