Paris Saint Germain rekindled hopes of a first French league championship success in 18 years today after squeezing past old rivals Marseille 2-1 at the Parc des Princes. The three points moved the big-spending capital club level on 63 points with Montpellier at the top of Ligue 1 - although the Parisians have played a game more.
PSG, who ended the game with ten men after a late red card for Mohamed Sissoko, made the ideal start as Jeremy Menez put them into the lead after just six minutes following good work by Brazilian Nene, who cut in from the left and set up a chance which Menez fired past Steve Mandanda.
The swift advantage was a boon for a PSG side on edge after last week's 2-1 loss at Nancy, which meant a first league defeat under Carlo Ancelotti. The win was only their third in their past nine outings.
Ancelotti sprang a surprise before kick-off in leaving strikers Guillaume Hoarau and Kevin Gameiro out of his starting line-up - though plenty of creative talent was there in the shape of Nene, Javier Pastore and Menez himself.
A desperate run of form for 2010 champions Marseille means that they and coach Didier Deschamps are set to miss out on a UEFA Champions League qualification spot, though they meet Lyon in next week's Coupe de la Ligue final. France's only European champions stand just ninth - 16 points outside the top three.
OM delight and dispair
PSG had the bit between their teeth after their early goal but were not cruising when the game suddenly moved up a gear around the hour mark with two goals in as many minutes. A cross from Cesar Azpilicueta found Andre Ayew after Loic Remy had flicked on and the Ghanaian headed the equaliser past Salvatore Sirigu on 59 minutes.
But PSG reacted straight from the kickoff and Alex beat keeper Mandanda following a Nene corner as the former Chelsea man bagged his second goal for the Parisians. Despite regaining the lead PSG were not firing on all cylinders and Ancelotti reacted by bringing off Pastore, their marquee summer signing, and sending on the less heralded Matthieu Bodmer.
PSG had a huge let-off late on when Benoit Cheyrou rashly fired over with the goal at his mercy. Moments earlier, Parisian hearts had already been in mouths when, from a Matthieu Valbuena corner, Sirigu came off worst as he and Marseille midfielder Alou Diarra went for the ball, which the home keeper spilled before his defence came to the rescue.