PSG rallies from 2-0 down, tips Valenciennes 4-3
PARIS (AP) -- Brazilian winger Nene scored one goal and created two more as Paris Saint-Germain hit back from conceding two early goals to win 4-3 at Valenciennes on Sunday and move level with Montpellier at the top of the French league.
Montpellier can restore its three-point lead by winning at fifth-place Rennes on Monday. Both teams will then have two matches left.
PSG's shaky defense was exposed again when it trailed 2-0 inside 11 minutes, both goals the result of poor marking.
Nene pulled a goal back four minutes later, set up Maxwell for the equalizer and then provided Jeremy Menez with a fourth goal.
"I created more goals than I scored tonight, which is always nice,'' Nene said. "Now we have to keep going like this until the end.''
PSG is bidding to win the French title for the first time since 1994 and the third time overall. Montpellier has never won the league.
Valenciennes took the lead in the eighth minute.
A long ball over the top to striker Vincent Aboubakar landed in between central defender Alex and left back Maxwell, with neither reacting quickly enough. Alex moved across too late and Aboubakar had time to turn and shoot low past goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.
Maxwell was exposed again as Aboubakar was given too much space again and, although Sirigu saved his effort, the ball fell for Remi Gomis to tap in for 2-0.
"We started really badly and it took that second goal for us to get back in the game,'' PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said.
But Valenciennes defended even more poorly and left gaps everywhere.
Winger Jeremy Menez collected a poor clearance from right back Rudy Mater and clipped the ball into the path of Nene, who finished with a strike into the opposite corner for his 18th league goal of the season in the 15th.
"Whether we were trying to protect our lead or not, we just sat back and watched them play,'' Valenciennes coach Daniel Sanchez said. "When you give them time and space it becomes very hard against players of that ability. We gifted them the first goal.''
Nene then turned provider, holding the ball up on the edge of the penalty area and then releasing it perfectly into the path of Maxwell, who beat goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau inside his near post for his first PSG goal since joining from Barcelona in January.
Playmaker Javier Pastore then showed superb vision to slide the ball toward Matuidi, and he poked the ball past Penneteau for 3-2.
"We played well in the first 20 minutes, but after that we didn't defend well,'' Valenciennes midfielder Gael Danic said. "If you leave gaps like that against PSG you get punished for it.''
The warning was not heeded as PSG scored again in the 58th.
Pastore, the French record signing at ?42 million, showed a touch of genius leading up to the goal. He controlled a long ball with the back of his heel, turned toward goal and then found Nene, who flicked the ball left and Menez stroked it wide of Penneteau's arm.
Valenciennes ensured a nervous last 10 minutes for PSG when midfielder Renaud Cohade curled a freekick into the top corner.
Earlier, Lyon conceded a second-half equalizer in a 1-1 home draw to Brest that almost certainly ends its chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
Yoann Gourcuff scored with a diving header in the 37th minute - his first goal for seven months - and then set up Lisandro Lopez for a chance, but his header was saved by goalkeeper Steve Elana.
Defender Gregory Lorenzi leveled for Brest in the 75th.
Lyon is eight points behind third-place Lille with three matches left. Defending champion Lille later hosts struggling Caen.
"We have to be realistic now and hold onto fourth place,'' Lyon coach Remi Garde said.
Lyon had been a regular in the Champions League in winning seven consecutive French titles until Bordeaux ended the run in the 2008-09 season. But the less glamorous Europa League now beckons.
"We promised each other we would win our last five matches, but we failed and we have ourselves to blame,'' Garde said.
Also, Evian beat struggling Ajaccio 2-1. Winger Benjamin Andre put Ajaccio ahead in the 14th but Evian midfielder Cedric Barbosa equalized a minute later and right back Daniel Wass made it 2-1 early in the second half.
Evian is in ninth place, while Ajaccio is three points above the relegation zone.
In Monday's other matches, it is: Auxerre vs. Bordeaux; Lorient vs. Dijon; Saint-Etienne vs. Marseille, Sochaux vs. Nancy and Toulouse vs. Nice.
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