- Associated Press - Sunday, October 23, 2016

PARIS (AP) - Striker Edinson Cavani missed an open goal near the end as Paris Saint-Germain drew 0-0 at home to bitter rival Marseille on Sunday, falling six points behind French league surprise leader Nice.

Cavani managed to poke the ball wide with the sole of his boot from five meters (yards) after running onto an excellent cross by midfielder Blaise Matuidi, who had a shot blocked in injury time in a game of few chances.

“This draw leaves us with a bitter taste,” PSG’s Brazilian left back Maxwell said. “We’ve dropped points that we will need to get back.”

Cavani, who also headed over in the second half from a good position, had a poor game - summed up when he tumbled theatrically in the penalty area late in the first half. Referee Clement Turpin firmly waved away the penalty claims without hesitation.

“I didn’t touch him,” said Portuguese defender Jorge Rolando, who was behind Cavani when he fell.

It was another flat and disjointed performance from new coach Unai Emery’s side.

He was hired in late June after PSG fired coach Laurent Blanc, who clinched a second straight domestic treble.

Blanc failed to get PSG beyond the quarterfinals of the Champions League, while Emery guided Sevilla to three straight Europa League titles.

On this evidence, PSG has enough to worry about on the domestic scene before thinking about conquering Europe.

PSG is third, two points behind Monaco - the league’s top scorers with 29 goals in 10 games - and just two points ahead of fourth-placed Toulouse.

Emery at least showed he does not favor his main players.

He took off Italy midfielder Marco Verratti and Argentina winger Angel Di Maria during the second half.

Meanwhile, Marseille picked up an encouraging point in new coach Rudi Garcia’s first game.

“It’s a good start,” Garcia said. “We had to show everyone that the players can fight for one another until the end.”

He was hired Thursday by Marseille’s new American owner Frank McCourt, who officially bought the club on Monday and sat next to PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

McCourt used to own the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.



Alassane Plea showed once more that he can fill in perfectly well for star striker Mario Balotelli, scoring a hat trick as unbeaten French league leader Nice won 4-2 at Metz.

Nice was missing Balotelli through injury, but Plea scored for the third time this season when leading the attack in his absence.

The 23-year-old Frenchman displayed great composure with two one-on-one finishes - including a key goal in the 84th minute. Nice won for the eighth time in 10 games under Swiss coach Lucien Favre, who joined after six seasons with German club Borussia Moenchengladbach.

“It was a very tough match for us,” Plea said. “Our strength is that we never give up and we always look to keep scoring.”

Midfielder Wylan Cyprien grabbed the fourth goal in injury time. Nice remains four points clear of Monaco.

Plea put the visitors ahead in the 14th, latching onto a clever pass behind the defense from Ivory Coast midfielder Jean Michael Seri.

It was Plea’s second goal of the week, having netted in a 1-0 win away to FC Salzburg in the Europa League on Thursday, and he also grabbed the winner against Nancy last month.

“Plea has extraordinary potential,” Favre said. “But it still needs working on.”

Goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale gifted Metz an equalizer midway through the first half, spilling striker Mevlut Erdinc’s tame shot into the path of Cameroon midfielder Georges Mandjeck.

Plea made it 2-1 from the penalty spot in the 38th but Metz leveled midway through second half through Senegalese striker Habib Diallo - just 23 seconds after coming off the bench.

But Plea made another great run behind the defense to make it 3-2.



Forward Henri Saivet and midfielder Jordan Veretout scored their first goals since coming back to France from the Premier League.

Saivet joined Newcastle in January on a five-year contract but made only four league appearances last season and was loaned to Saint-Etienne following Newcastle’s relegation to the second tier.

Veretout joined Aston Villa in the summer of 2015 - also on a five-year deal - and is on loan following Villa’s relegation.

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