sport

Battling PSG maintain title push

Paris Saint-Germain took yet another step towards retaining their Ligue 1 title with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Lorient on Friday night.

Thiago Motta scored the only goal of the contest in the 41st minute as PSG moved 11 points clear at the summit for 48 hours at least, with nearest chasers Monaco not in action until Sunday night against third-placed Lille.

Friday night's result continues a good week for the capital club, who followed last weekend's victory over St Etienne with a 2-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, which secured a 6-1 aggregate victory and a place in the quarter-finals.

Hours ahead of kick-off Laurent Blanc's men learned they would face Chelsea in the last eight of Europe's elite competition, but the draw proved no distraction as PSG set about the task at hand at Stade du Moustoir.

The visitors had early storms to weather, however, as Lorient, struggling in mid-table after a run of just one win in their last eight league matches, began brightly.

Alain Traore was the first to threaten the PSG goal with a long-range free-kick that Salvatore Sirigu did well to repel, while the visiting goalkeeper also produced a fine reflex save to keep out Yann Jouffre's well-hit volley two minutes later.

With 34 minutes gone Jeremie Aliadiere volleyed just over as Lorient continued to press, but within moments PSG finally threatened at the other end when Edinson Cavani saw his close-range header from Christophe Jallet's cross superbly clawed away by Fabien Audard.

The breakthrough arrived via a scrappy goal just minutes before the interval.

Cavani's cross from the right eventually made its way to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had to readjust his feet to get a shot away that Audard could not clear from danger, allowing Motta to run in and bundle the loose ball over the line.

The visitors looked a more threatening proposition after the break and nearly increased their lead six minutes in when Ibrahimovic's thunderous 25-yard strike from Marco Verratti's lay-off again brought the very best out of Audard.

Audard again excelled with 16 minutes left when somehow kept out a low volley from an unmarked Jallet at the far post.

Lorient struggled to replicate their first-half display against a much-improved PSG, and their one chance of the second period, in the 83rd minute, went begging as Vincent Aboubakar headed wide from a corner.

There was still time for the hugely-impressive Audard to pull off another wonderful save, this time reacting to parry a fearsome Blaise Matuidi drive that appeared destined for the back of net.