PSG fail to close gap on Marseille after loss at Bastia
PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain’s defensive liabilities were exposed again after it slumped to a 4-2 defeat at Bastia on Saturday, despite leading 2-0 inside 20 minutes.
PSG has failed to win any of its past three league games – losing two and drawing one.
Coach Laurent Blanc’s side squandered the chance to close the gap on league leader Marseille, which lost 2-1 at Montpellier on Friday. This latest sloppy performance increases the pressure on Blanc ahead of Tuesday’s League Cup quarterfinal at Saint-Etienne.
Before the winter break, Blanc lamented his team’s lack of aggression and rigor, particularly when defending set pieces – and two of the goals conceded came from corners and two stemmed from crosses.
A minute’s silence was held before all matches this weekend in memory of the 17 people killed in Paris this week, following three days of bloodshed in a rampage by terrorists linked to al-Qaida in Yemen.
PSG remains in third place, three points behind Marseille and one behind second-place Lyon, which can move to the top of the league if it beats Toulouse at home on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a win for Saint-Etienne away to Reims later Saturday would drop PSG down to fourth spot.
The game started brightly for PSG.
Brazilian winger Lucas scored in the 10th minute after running onto Yohan Cabaye’s precise pass, and midfielder Adrien Rabiot capped a rare start with the second 10 minutes later, after being set up by Javier Pastore.
Bastia scored in the 32nd after right back Gregory van der Wiel was ruled to have handled the ball following a cross, and midfielder Ryad Boudebouz confidently converted the penalty.
That goal boosted the Corsican side’s confidence – and Boudebouz’s.
The Algeria midfielder set up the equalizer on the stroke of halftime when his cross was headed home by veteran defender Francois-Joseph Modesto – despite the close attentions of defenders Maxwell and David Luiz.
PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has scored only once in his past four games, was kept largely quiet and Bastia took the lead soon after the break when defender Julian Palmieri struck the best of his two goals.
After Rabiot cleared Boudebouz’s corner from the left, the ball fell to Palmieri some 20 meters out and he hit a splendid volley to make it 3-2 in the 56th.
PSG went close to equalizing as center half Thiago Silva struck the crossbar and Lucas flashed a header just wide, but Palmieri sealed an impressive win when he rifled in Abdoulaye Keita’s cross from the right.
In other matches later Saturday, it’s: Evian vs. Rennes; Guingamp vs. Lens; Lille vs. Caen; and Nice vs. Lorient.
Also Sunday, Nantes hosts Metz and Monaco faces Bordeaux.