Paris Saint-Germain consolidated their grip on top spot in Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win over Montpellier at the Parc des Princes on Friday.
Kevin Gameiro came off the bench to score the only goal of the game with nine minutes to go for PSG, who had their chances in the first half but saw their momentum slowly disappear thanks to an increasingly stubborn defensive performance from Rene Girard’s men.
PSG provisionally extended their lead at the top of the table to eight points, but they were left with more questions than answers for their midweek Champions League clash with Barcelona after a below-par display.
The hosts could have been ahead in the first minute had Clement Chantome been slightly more accurate with a shot from the edge of the area that whistled past the far post.
While Montpellier stood their ground during the early exchanges, the better chances fell PSG’s way.
With 20 minutes gone, Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired narrowly over the bar after he was picked out with precision by Marco Verratti.
Gaetan Charbonnier sliced the visitors’ best opening of the half wide from 18 yards, but the home side continued to look more dangerous, with Ibrahimovic drilling off target again before Geoffrey Jourdren denied Thiago Silva’s header superbly.
The Montpellier goalkeeper also thwarted a similar opportunity from Alex, but should have been made to work a lot harder by Ibrahimovic minutes before the break as the Swede scuffed an effort straight into his arms after taking aim from an unmarked position inside the area.
Montpellier would have two decent chances to take the lead shortly after the restart as Remy Cabella and Charbonnier both squandered good opportunities.
But as the minutes ticked away, so did the incisiveness of PSG’s attacking play as Montpellier proved themselves an increasingly tough outfit to break down.
Carlo Ancelotti brought on David Beckham and Gameiro for Chantome and Verratti with just under 20 minutes remaining, and the changes seemed to do the trick as momentum shifted back in his side’s favour.
With 81 minutes played, the substitutes contributed to the winner.
Beckham’s pass started the attack, which saw Jeremy Menez play in Ibrahimovic, who in turn slipped in Gameiro for a simple finish to seal the points.