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PSG top Group A and buy Carlo Ancelotti time

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04 Dec 2012 22:46:52

PSG top Group A and buy Carlo Ancelotti time

Paris Saint Germain earned under-fire coach Carlo Ancelotti a stay of execution on Tuesday as they put their recent run of poor form behind them to beat Porto 2-1 in the Champions League.

The big-spending French side were more than helped by a goalkeeping blunder by Porto's Helton as they moved into the the knockout phase as winners of of Group A.

PSG have slipped to fourth in the league table after a dismal domestic run that has left Ancelotti in danger of losing his job, but finally got the stroke of luck the Italian was looking for with a 61st minute winner that Porto 'keeper Helton will have nightmares about.

Argentine striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, signed from Napoli this season, found a yard of space inside the box but his shot was tame and soft but somehow slipped under the Brazilian's body much to the delight of the fanatic Parc des Princes faithful.

Porto launched a late comeback and had a gilt-edged chance on 69 minutes when Colombian marksman Jackson Martinez almost scored his second of the match when he broke behind the defence only for PSG's Italian 'keeper Salvatore Sirigu to bravely dive at his feet and preserve the home advantage.

That was as close as Porto got as the capital side locked up their back line and smothered the midfield and Porto, the 2004 champions, ran out of imagination towards the end.

"This result will give us a lot of confidence and we've finished top of the group so we're very happy and we're going to enjoy this victory," said PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

"A lot of people have said a lot of things about us lately but we're a solid group and can still achieve some big things this season," he added. "This is a great win for us."

In the opening half, PSG were the more determined team during the early exchanges and used their front line of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and wingers Levazzi and Jeremy Menez to get down the flanks and create havoc in the box.

While Porto weathered the storm for the opening half an hour, the relentless determination of Ancelotti's side forced the breakthrough, thanks to an innocuous free-kick on the left wing with 16 minutes left until half-time.

Former Barcelona wing-back Maxwell curled an inviting ball into the box and although Porto had players back in numbers, Thiago Silva showed greater concentration and was able to plant a firm header off the underside of the bar with Helton given no chance.

But the lead was short-lived as Porto showed their European pedigree and experience with a goal out of nothing just four minutes later.

The PSG defence fell to pieces and were unable to deal with a routine cross from Danilo on the right that left Alex and Thiago Silva flat-footed and allowed Colombian marksman Jackson Martinez to steer a stooping header past the stranded Sirigu.

Ibrahimovic should have put the result beyond doubt with a close-range rebound late in the match following a rare shot on goal from Javier Pastore but in the end it had no influence as PSG returned to winning ways and earned a seeded place in the draw for next year's knockout phase.


AFP

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