PSG on cusp of title after edging Evian

PARIS (AFP) - Nine-man Paris Saint-Germain moved to the brink of their first Ligue 1 title in 19 years with a gritty 1-0 victory over relegation-threatened Evian on Sunday as they exacted revenge for their French Cup quarter-final exit.

Javier Pastore scored the game's only goal five minutes after half-time in Annecy as PSG racked up a fifth successive win, despite the late dismissals of Marco Verratti and David Beckham, to move nine points clear of Marseille with just four games remaining.

Owing to a far superior goal difference, PSG can effectively wrap up the league crown next weekend at home to Valenciennes for what would be their first championship since 1994, while Evian stay out of the bottom three on the same basis.

A dour first half at the Parc des Sports presented few chances for either side with the legs of Evian goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait preventing Zlatan Ibrahimovic from putting the visitors ahead, while Saber Khlifa had Salvatore Sirigu at full-stretch as his fizzing drive whistled over the crossbar.

But PSG made what proved to be the decisive breakthrough five minutes after the interval as Christophe Jallet played a cleverly disguised square ball for Pastore to clip beyond Laquait and into the far corner for his fourth goal of the campaign.

Ibrahimovic should have doubled the lead shortly after as Verratti's stabbed effort bounced back off the bar only for the Swede to lash over with the goal at his mercy, while Ezequiel Lavezzi was guilty of an equally-glaring miss as his hesitancy allowed Cedric Mongongu to make a vital block after he had rounded Laquait.

Evian's quest for an equaliser saw Sirigu palm away a Daniel Wass free-kick before the Italian made an excellent low save to deny Khlifa as PSG recorded a fifth straight clean sheet.

The victory was marred, though, by Verratti's dismissal on 82 minutes for a second bookable offence, a red card that saw the Italian draw the ire of Ancelotti as he trudged off the pitch before Beckham was harshly issued his marching orders in stoppage time for a foul on Youssef Adnane.

The game then descended into further chaos after the final whistle as Khlifa and Sirigu were both shown red after a melee broke out between the sides.

Earlier, Lyon maintained their two point advantage over fourth-placed Saint-Etienne as they fought out a 1-1 draw in a typically hotly-contested derby.

Lyon's playmaker Yoann Gourcuff grabbed a share of the spoils with the equaliser in the 55th minute in what was as usual a high voltage affair with the game being held up for a number of minutes as both sets of supporters fought with each other.

Kurt Zouma had given the recently-crowned League Cup winners the lead in the 29th minute and but for glaring misses by their strike duo Brandao and Gabonese international Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, they would have run out convincing winners.

Elsewhere, Nice kept themselves firmly in contention for European football next term with a 3-1 victory over beleaguered Troyes.

Mohamed Yattara struck first for visiting Troyes but Nice replied through Renato Civelli before Dario Cvitanich put the home side in front on the stroke of half-time with his 15th goal of the campaign.

Luigi Bruins added some insurance with a third 13 minutes from time as Nice moved level with fifth-placed Lille on 57 points, one shy of Saint-Etienne, while defeat for Troyes left them bottom, six points from safety with just four games remaining.