Paris St. Germain stuck a symbolic blow in the D1 Arkema title race with a deserved victory over perennial top of the table rivals Olympique Lyonnais at the Parc des Princes – a result which condemned the visitors to their first league defeat in four years.
The early exchanges were typically cagey in such a vital game. It was OL who had the best of the possession and pressed PSG back in this period.
Indeed, it was Lyon who forced the opening corner after just four minutes when Saki Kumagai crossed in, Le Sommer dummied and PSG diverted the ball over the bar. It all came to naught as home goalkeeper Christiane Endler was adjudged to have been fouled form the corner.
Then, with just eleven minutes played, PSG hit the lead. The visitors lost possession on the right wing and away went Kadidiatou Diani. She slid a pass into Marie Antoinette Katoto who raced towards the onrushing Sarah Bouhaddi. The Lyon keeper committed herself early and Katoto rounded her and ensured that Kadeisha Buchanan couldn’t scramble back to stop her and rolled the ball into the net from an acute angle.
Three minutes later, Kumagai gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box in a central position. Sara Dabritz stepped up, but her effort landed on the roof on the net.
Shortly afterwards, Eugenie Le Sommer got away and was tugged back by Ashley Lawrence whilst closing in on goal to the left of centre. Up stepped Dzsenifer Marozsan to rifle in an effort on target which Endler had to fist away.
Unsurprisingly, the Parisians were buoyed by the goal and the balance of play shifted into their favour. Dabritz’s dangerous ball in was calmly cleared by Ellie Carpenter, but it returned to the area quickly as Buchanan combined with Katoto before moving play onto Luana and Diani. PSG kept the possession and built slowly as they patiently looked for the right moment to launch an incisive pass and it came from Lawrence’s cross – unfortunately, Katoto couldn’t make the right contact with her attempted volley and Bouhaddi gathered.
Katoto was then played in Diani, but Australian international Carpenter got back brilliantly to deny her with a magnificent tackle. Just before the half-hour mark, Lyon’s early woes increased when key player Eugenie Le Sommer went down off the ball with what appeared at the time to be a hamstring injury and she was replaced by Lionesses star Nikita Parris.
Lyon rallied and an outstanding piece of skill by Sakina Karchaoui down the left saw the ball played in to the box but PSG cleared. They had better luck when a routine pass towards the box was sliced out for a corner.
With four minutes to go until the break, Luana found Sandy Baltimore who teased her way past Carpenter and won a corner off of Buchanan, but the visitors survived.
Such was PSG’s control after the goal, they may well have been disappointed not to add a second before the break as history tells you that OL always seem to find a way to force themselves back into a game. The hosts had controlled the dangerous pair of Karchaoui and Cascarino well and had the better of the all-important midfield battle. A continuation of these circumstances would go a long way to earning PSG a hugely important and symbolic victory.
There was noticeably more energy about Olympique Lyonnais immediately after the interval. They fashioned an early opportunity when Sara Dabritz miscued to allow Amandine Henry to gather possession. The France skipper found Delphine Cascarino whose close control brought her into the area but was muscled out by Grace Geyoro before getting a shot in.
On the hour mark, Diani was pulled back by Amandine Henry on the right. Dabritz’s free kick was cleared by Renard, and on the counter attack Nikita Parris sprinted away with plenty of support but back came Perle Morroni to put in an outstanding tackle.
All the signs were that PSG had weathered the early chances that Lyon had made. On sixty-five minutes, Diani’s cross-field ball found Katoto who eased past Carpenter to put in a cross which Bouhaddi grabbed at the near post.
Cascarino won a throw near the corner flag and the hosts made a series of blunders in trying to clear, but Lyon were not able to make PSG pay for their less than sound defensive play.
With seventy-two minutes gone, Wendie Renard hacked down Marie-Antoinette Katoto on the left hand side just outside of the box and was lucky to only receive a yellow card. From the resulting free-kick, substitute Alana Cook’s header was poor and Bouhaddi gathered comfortably.
Katoto didn’t recover from the foul on her by Renard and she was replaced by Signe Bruun within minutes.
With twelve minutes left, Karchaoui found Parris who in turn played a pass inside to Marozsan, but the German’s shot was way off target for the visitors.
With three minutes to go, substitute Melvine Malard raced into the box but a superb challenge from Irene Paredes closed down the danger and Formiga put the ball out for a corner, which the home side defended successfully and they went on to see out the remainder of the game to record an excellent victory.
Whilst this win does not decide anything this season, the defeat of a team who has won fourteen consecutive league titles by a side who have been trying to snap at their heels for many years means that the D1 Arkema title race now takes on a fascinating twist. OL know they have no margin for error now. If this was seen as a big game, the return in the New Year at the Groupama Stadium will be absolutely monumental.
Paris St. Germain: Endler, Morroni, Dudek, Paredes, Lawrence, Dabritz, Luana, Geyoro, Baltimore, Katoto, Diani. Substitutes: Voll (GK), Cook (for Dudek), Formiga (for Luana), Bachmann, Bruun (for Katoto), Huitema, Nadim.
Scorers: Katoto 11.
Lyon: Bouhaddi, Carpenter, Buchanan, Renard, Karchaoui, Henry, Kumagai, Cascarino, Marozsan, Majri, Le Sommer. Substitutes: Gallardo (GK), Cayman, Bacha, Gunnarsdottir (for Majri), Parris (for Le Sommer), Taylor, Malard (for Cascarino).
Referee: Maika Vanderstichel