London : Olympique Marseille earned a smash-and-grab 1-0 win at Ligue 1 champions Paris St Germain after forward Florian Thauvin struck in the 31st minute of a pulsating though ill-tempered match at the Parc des Princes .
Littered with fouls throughout, the clash boiled over in the last minute of stoppage time with referee Jerome Brisard sending off five players after a full scale brawl broke out on the pitch.
Paris Saint Germain’s Neymar, Laywin Kurzawa and Leandro Paredes as well as Marseille’s duo of Dario Benedetto and Jordan Amavi were given their marching orders after rival players threw punches and kicks at each other.
But it did not bother Marseille manager Andre Villas-Boas after the 1993 European Cup winners celebrated their first league win against PSG since November 2011.”A tough and important win as well as a historic one,” Villas-Boas told reporters after his side condemned last season’s Champions League runners-up to a second successive defeat following a 1-0 opening day setback at Lens.
“We struggled to cope with PSG’s early pressure because they are very good at it, but we found a way to grind out a great victory. It wasn’t pretty and we suffered.”
Thauvin scored against the run of play, steering in a Dimitri Payet free kick inside the near post from close range after the home side had come close through Marco Verratti and Neymar, who also missed a pair of chances in the second half.
Visiting keeper Steve Mandanda pulled off several superb saves before both sides had a goal disallowed for offside as the pace and intensity went up a gear after the break.
Angel Di Maria’s effort for PSG was ruled out in the 62nd minute and Benedetto’s scorcher was also scrapped two minutes later as Thauvin, who unleashed the initial shot, was marginally behind the last PSG defender.
Missing several first-team regulars who had contracted the COVID-19 virus, PSG pressed hard in the closing stages but Marseille’s rugged defence held firm.
PSG sports director Leonardo, a former World Cup winner with Brazil, criticised the referee’s actions.
“A total of 14 cards were brandished and five of them were red, which means the match got out of control,” Leonardo told the Telefoot television channel.”(Brisard) lost his head. He officiated the League Cup final but he doesn’t have the experience for this kind of fixture.”
After the match, Neymar Jr tweeted: “My only regret is not hitting him in the face.”
Minutes later, he came up with another tweet, saying: “VAR catching my “aggression” is easy, now I want to see the image of the racist calling me a monkey, that I want to see! What’s up? REEL u punish me, CASCUDO I am expelled, what about them? What’s up.”
After the match, Villas-Boas defended his player Gonzalez as he accused Angel Di Maria of spitting at one of his players.
“Alvaro is an experienced player. There is no room for racism in football, but I don’t think that’s it. Neymar was a little annoyed by this situation at the end of the match. I hope that will not distract from this victory. We also have Di Maria who spat on one of our players. It was a Clasico and we must remember this historic victory for OM,” Goal.com quoted Boas as saying.
Valencia win derby, Villarreal draw with Huesca in Emery bow, Pellegrini gets opening win with Betis
Valencia twice came from behind to beat rivals Levante 4-2 in a thrilling city derby on Sunday, brushing aside a chaotic summer to make a winning start to the new La Liga season.
Jose Luis Morales gave Levante the lead in the opening minute and restored their advantage in the 36th after Gabriel Paulista had levelled for Javi Gracia’s side.
But Maxi Gomez equalised before halftime while Manu Vallejo put Valencia ahead for the first time in the 75th minute before sealing the points with a second strike in stoppage time, following up a shot that came off the post.
Valencia had a torrid end to the last campaign as they finished ninth in the standings after sacking two managers.
Things got worse in the close season as they parted with key players Francis Coquelin, Dani Parejo, Ezequiel Garay and Rodrigo Moreno, prompting demonstrations against Peter Lim’s ownership from fans, who also protested outside the Mestalla stadium ahead of the derby.
Also on Sunday, Unai Emery had a disappointing return to Spanish soccer as his Villarreal side could only draw 1-1 at home to promoted Huesca in an eventful game which had three goals ruled out.
Elsewhere, Real Betis beat Alaves 1-0 while Real Sociedad earned a 1-1 draw at Real Valladolid.
Emery’s Villarreal had first-half strikes from Paco Alcacer and Raul Albiol chalked off before Pablo Maffeo, making his Huesca debut, gave the visitors the lead in the 42nd minute against the run of play.
Maffeo then gave away a penalty for handball from which Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno levelled in the 68th, while new signing Coquelin, making his debut since signing from Valencia, was carried off on a stretcher with ten minutes remaining.
Huesca could have won the match in a frantic six minutes of stoppage time, as Joaquin was denied by Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo before team mate Jorge Pulido put the ball in the net for the visitors but the strike was ruled out for offside.
Betis beat Alaves courtesy of a stoppage time goal from Cristian Tello, giving coach Manuel Pellegrini a winning start in his first game in charge of the Seville club.
Valladolid went ahead against Sociedad in the 39th minute in the day’s other game when Michel tapped into the net following fine work by Sergi Guardiola down the wing.
But they lost their lead due to a moment of madness from keeper Masip, who let a tame free kick from Roberto Lopez slip through his hands and over the line on the hour mark.
Gremio recovered from a goal down to salvage a point at home to Fortaleza on Sunday in a 1-1 draw that featured two red cards and a series of missed chances by the home side.
Osvaldo put the visitors ahead after 17 minutes when his speculative cross crept in at the far post but Diego Souza equalised from the penalty spot seven minutes into the second period.
Luiz Fernando of Gremio and Gabriel Dias of Fortaleza were sent off after clashing with 20 minutes left and although Gremio had chances to win the game they could not get the all-important second goal.
The result means that Gremio are now in tenth place in the Serie A table, equal on 12 points with Fortaleza, who are one place above them with a game in hand.