Paris Saint-Germain kept pace with AS Monaco in Ligue 1 with a 2-1 victory at rivals Olympique de Marseille on Sunday. The visitors overturned a first-half deficit and moved joint-top of the table despite playing a man down for nearly 60 minutes.
Andre Ayew gave Marseille the lead with a 34th-minute penalty, moments after Thiago Motta contentiously saw red for a foul in the box. Maxwell leveled for PSG with a header on the stroke of half-time, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 66th minute.
With the win, PSG moved level with Monaco on 21 points. Monaco are first because of a superior goal-differential. Marseille remained third but fell four points behind the leaders.
The teams entered this edition of "Le Classique" having experienced wildly differing outcomes in Europe the previous week. PSG routed Benfica 3-0 in Group C while Marseille lost by the same scoreline to Borussia Dortmund in Group F.
PSG, meanwhile, had collected 25 points from the last 27 available on their travels in the league, but Marseille went ahead just after the half-hour mark in controversial circumstances.
In the 30th minute, Motta misplayed a clearance in his box, allowing Mathieu Valbuena to nick the ball away. Motta then fouled Valbuena with the follow-through on his attempted second clearance, and referee Clement Turpin correctly awarded a penalty.
That part was not controversial.
The controversy came from his decision to send off Motta, who was not the last man and had not denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Regardless, Ayew converted the penalty to put Marseille ahead in the 34th minute after a long delay as Turpin sorted matters out.
PSG responded quickly, though, with Ibrahimovic forcing a save out of Steve Mandanda with his hooked shot in the 41st minute. Then, in the 45th minute, Maxwell headed in from Gregory van der Wiel's cross to pull the visitors level.
After the break, the revival continued. PSG were the better side despite playing a man down, and the visitors won their own penalty in the 65th minute when Andre Ayew clattered into Marquinhos on the edge of the box.
Ibrahimovic calmly slotted in for his fifth league goal of the season, and PSG were on their way.
Marseille largely failed to threaten in the closing stages as playmaker Valbuena failed to exert his influence on the match. Star striker Andre Pierre-Gignac, returning from an injury, entered immediately after Ibrahimovic's goal but was also unable to affect the outcome.
For OM the sheer lack of creativity against 10 men must set off alarm bells. The first half hour was pretty much all OM but tailed off badly— FFWeekly (@FFW_LIVE) October 6, 2013
Laurent Blanc's good start as PSG coach turns into a very good start. Champions showed excellent character to come back from goal down. #PSG— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) October 6, 2013
Salvatore Sirigu, PSG: A
The 26-year-old Italian keeper was excellent in the first half, keeping Marseille at bay when the hosts tried to press their early superiority.
Sirigu stopped Valbuena's tricky free kick—he rolled it under the wall—in the 12th minute and made a stunning double save on Jordan Ayew and then Valbuena nine minutes later.
In the second half, he had a shaky moment with Payet's swerving shot, but Sirigu kept it out.
Overall, he played very well.
PSG overall: A
PSG started the match in a conservative, controlled posture and went behind late in the first half. To make matters worse, Thiago Motta's dismissal meant they had to play a man down on the road for most of the final hour.
It turned out not to be a problem.
Laurent Blanc shuffled his deck expertly, bringing in Adrien Rabiot for Ezequiel Lavezzi and moving Edinson Cavani into a more central role with Ibrahimovic supporting.
The results were impossible to ignore.
Despite playing a man down for the entire second half, PSG were the better side and thoroughly deserved their victory.
Marseille overall: C
Marseille have now lost to both Monaco and PSG, and thus the title credentials of Elie Baup's team must be questioned. OM's performance in the first half was solid, but after the break—with an extra player on the pitch—they created little and spent most of their time looking shell-shocked.
In the first half, Marseille pressured well and forced PSG's attackers to play deeper. In the second, Marseille's own playmakers couldn't find any time on the ball.
All told, Marseille didn't create enough to win despite a decent start against top opposition. Work remains to be done if OM are to challenge for the title this season.