Parisians edge past Marseille in high-security clash

PARIS: Paris St Germain defeated 10-man Olympique Marseille 2-1 after extra time in a French Cup second round tie played in a tense atmosphere on and off the field of the Parc des Princes surrounded by a massive security operation. 

PSG took the upper hand from the kick-off and opened the scoring after 13 minutes when Argentine central defender Maurico Pochettino headed home a Hugo Leal corner. 

PSG, who trounced Marseille 3-0 in their last encounter in Paris in October, seemed in control until Daniel Van Buyten levelled with a powerful header from a Fabio Celestini long range free kick on the hour. 

From then on, there was a flourish of yellow-cards, five to Marseille, three to PSG that culminated with Marseille’s Manuel Dos Santos being sent off with a straight red card for a late tackle on Fabrice Fiorese in the dying seconds of regular time. 

Fiorese sealed PSG victory when Ronaldinho set him up for a well-struck low shot from the edge of the box 12 minutes into extra time. PSG central defender Talal El Karkouri received a second yellow-card just before the final whistle. 

Labelled a “high risk game,” the match between the two arch rivals of the 1990s, was played under strict police control.  

Some 2,000 police officers and 400 PSG security agents were on duty inside and outside the stadium and the interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy was on the spot to supervise the operation. 

The Parc des Princes area was sealed off several hours before kickoff, pubs and restaurants were barred from selling alcohol and all spectators were body-searched. 

No major incidents were reported but Paris police said two PSG supporters were arrested and “dozens of knifes and pickaxe shafts” were seized. 

Only six of the French 20-team first division have survived a French Cup onslaught which had started with the first round exit of nine top flight sides including champions Olympique Lyon and five-time Cup winners Monaco. 

The one big upset came from the French rugby union capital Toulouse where RC Lens suffered another setback after their failures in the Champions League, the UEFA CUP and the League Cup. 

Toulouse scored the winner in the 23rd minute through striker Anthony Bancarel when Lens goalkeeper Charles-Hubert Itandje could only palm into his path a powerful header from Nicolas Dieuze. 

Nantes, the 1999 and 2000 Cup winners, were eliminated 1-0 by trophy holders Lorient, who were relegated at the end of last season. 

Le Havre lost 2-1 to another second division team Laval. Stade Rennes defeated Ajaccio 3-0 in the only other all-first division match. – Reuters  

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