Ligue 1

PSG overcome red card to beat Marseille and take step closer to title

PSG overcome red card to beat Marseille and take step closer to title

Paris Saint-Germain players celebrate after beating Marseille 2-0 in Ligue 1 on Sunday (NICOLAS TUCAT)

Paris Saint-Germain overcame a controversial first-half sending-off to win 2-0 away to bitter rivals Marseille in Ligue 1 on Sunday, with Portuguese duo Vitinha and Goncalo Ramos scoring their goals.

Marseille's hopes of a first home league win against PSG since November 2011 were raised when the away side had Lucas Beraldo sent off five minutes before the interval.

But the Qatar-owned club still came out on top, with Vitinha exchanging passes with Ousmane Dembele before firing home a superb opening goal in the 53rd minute on a wet night at the Velodrome.

Marseille, who had been unbeaten at home this season, went looking for an equaliser and Jordan Veretout had a goal disallowed for an offside against team-mate Luis Henrique.

PSG coach Luis Enrique then withdrew captain Kylian Mbappe just after the hour mark and it was his replacement Ramos who made sure of the win five minutes from time.

The goal came on the breakaway, with the visitors clearing a corner before Achraf Hakimi found Marco Asensio and he picked out Ramos, who finished coolly for his 10th goal of the season.

Only Mbappe, with 38 in all competitions, has found the net more often for PSG this season.

The result means PSG end the weekend as they started it, 12 points clear of second-placed Brest, who won 1-0 at Lorient earlier on Sunday.

"I am very proud of our second-half performance, of the solidarity and the attitude of the players," said Luis Enrique.

"We had to play in a different style to what we usually do, but we did it very well.

"I am pleased with the result, because it was a 'Classique' and it counts for the supporters."

There are just seven games of the campaign remaining, and PSG need only 10 more points to claim a 10th title in 12 seasons.

The biggest talking point on the night was the red card for Beraldo, the young Brazilian defender signed in January.

He went shoulder-to-shoulder with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, knocking the attacker over just past halfway near the right touchline.

Already on a booking, he escaped a second caution but then referee Benoit Bastien came across to check the VAR monitor and, following the review, surprisingly chose to show Beraldo a straight red card, judging him to have been the last defender.

"I don't usually judge refereeing decisions, especially when there is VAR," said Luis Enrique.

"The action happened right in front of me, and I didn't think there was a foul.

"But I don't come here to talk about the referee, to comment on his decisions or to demand explanations."

– Brest stay second –

Marseille could not take advantage of the extra man and a second straight league loss means they remain seventh, three points away from the European places.

PSG face Rennes at home in the French Cup semi-finals on Wednesday, and host Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final a week later.

Brest remain on course for Champions League qualification after beating Brittany rivals Lorient thanks to a late Romain Del Castillo goal.

They held on for the victory despite having Billal Brahimi sent off in stoppage time, and the result lifted them back up into second place above Monaco, who won 5-2 at Metz on Saturday.

Brest, who have never qualified for Europe, are four points better off than fourth-placed Lille, who beat Lens 2-1 on Friday.

The top three in Ligue 1 will qualify automatically for next season's expanded Champions League, with fourth place entering in the preliminary rounds.

Nice remain fifth despite losing 2-1 at home to struggling Nantes, whose winner came from a late penalty by Egypt striker Mostafa Mohamed.

Second in the table at the season's halfway stage, Nice have now won just once in their last eight league games.

The result takes Nantes, in their first game since Antoine Kombouare returned for a second spell as coach, out of the relegation play-off place, with Lorient replacing them.

Rennes saw their prospects of European qualification dealt a blow in a 2-0 defeat away to Patrick Vieira's Strasbourg, while there were also wins for Montpellier and Toulouse.

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