Leader PSG slips to embarrassing 1-0 loss at Reims
PARIS (AP) -Paris Saint-Germain opened the door for Lyon in the French title race after slipping to an embarrassing 1-0 loss at relegation-battler Reims on Saturday, with the league leader conceding the goal shortly after the host had a player sent off.
It was PSG's second consecutive away loss to a team fighting relegation following the 3-2 loss at Sochaux two weeks ago, and the second time this season it has lost despite having a man advantage.
Second-place Lyon can move level on points if it wins at Brest on Sunday, and PSG's loss will dent confidence ahead of Wednesday's home match against Valencia in the return leg of the Champions League last 16.
"We still don't have the keys to win these games and we'll have to find them quickly if we want to win the league,'' PSG sporting director Leonardo said.
Reims defender Christopher Glombard was red-carded in the 58th after picking up a second yellow card, and minutes later midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak was left unchallenged to sweep the ball in following a corner from the right.
"We have to battle more,'' PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "The pitch really wasn't good and we couldn't play the ball on the ground.''
PSG brought on substitute David Beckham and winger Jeremy Menez shortly after the goal but it made little difference.
Leonardo, who has stood out for his vehement criticism of officials this season, claimed PSG was more suited to elite-level football rather than the smaller clubs in the French league.
"We're not made for games like that, we're a team made to play in Europe,'' Leonardo said. "PSG is for Europe, not for France.''
But Ancelotti was more sparing of his players, preferring to lament what he felt was a valid goal ruled out for Ibrahimovic.
"I can't be angry because the team is working well and we're still in front,'' he said.
The first half started scrappily and saw little creativity from either side.
Center-half Anthony Weber saw his shot blocked by PSG midfielder Marco Verratti near the line in the 36th and the loose ball was quickly played up to winger Ezequiel Lavezzi who suddenly found himself clean through with only goalkeeper Kossi Agassa to beat.
But the Reims `keeper bluffed Lavezzi into thinking the referee had blown for offside, nonchalantly standing still as a confused Lavezzi casually stroked the ball wide only to realize that no flag had been raised. Lavezzi pulled his jersey over his face in frustration at being hoodwinked so easily.
"When I saw him running at me I told myself that I wouldn't move,'' Agassa said.
Ibrahimovic had the ball in the net early in the second half and peeled off to celebrate, only to realize several seconds later that his effort had been ruled out for offside.
"We could have won the game if we'd scored first. Lavezzi made a mistake and then the referee made one,'' Ancelotti said. "But we also have to open the game more, rather than relying on individuals.''
The match turned against the home side when Glombard went off for a late tackle on Javier Pastore.
But 10-man Reims punished poor defending when Mohamed Fofana flicked on a corner and Krychowiak was left unmarked at the back post to score in the 64th.
"It's exceptional to beat PSG in front of your home fans, and this will give us a lift for our next games,'' Krychowiak said.
The win moved Reims provisionally up to 15th spot.
Elsewhere, it was: Bastia 1, Ajaccio 0; Lorient 1, Valenciennes 1; Saint-Etienne 4, Nice 0; Sochaux 1, Nancy 2, and Toulouse 0, Evian 0.
Brandao scored twice and strike partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his eighth goal in the past seven games as Saint-Etienne moved provisionally above Marseille into third place. Winger Yohan Mollo got Saint-Etienne's other goal but the home side's jubilant mood was tempered by a serious injury to midfielder Jeremy Clement, who broke his ankle.
Kevin Monnet-Paquet gave Lorient the early lead and Gael Danic equalized for Valenciennes.
The match between the Corsican rivals ended in chaotic fashion with Mathieu Chalme, Dennis Oliech and Benjamin Andre sent off for Ajaccio, and Florian Thauvin and Jerome Rothen red-carded for Bastia.
Nancy got a boost in its relegation scrap but is six points away from safety.