Great rivals Paris Saint-Germain FC and Olympique de Marseille drew 0-0 on Thursday in a stormy match in Le Championnat that saw eight players booked and PSG coach Luis Fernandez sent to the stands by the referee.
PSG and Marseille have been arch-rivals since the early 1990s when they often fought it out for Le Championnat. Before the match PSG playmaker Mikel Arteta even went as far as saying the rivalry between the two sides was "bigger" than that between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona.
PSG were just just seventh going into the match. Coach Luis Fernandez elected to start with a three-man attack comprising Ronaldinho, Laurent Leroy and Jose Aloisio. Nicolas Anelka was a high-profile absentee from the starting eleven or the bench. Marseille coach Tomislav Ivic, whose side were tenth going into the hotly-anticipated clash, was content to play Ibrahim Bakayoko as a lone frontman.
The game struggled to lift up to its lofty billing on a rainy night in Paris. Ronaldinho fired a free-kick over the bar on two minutes and looked by far the most threatening player early on. On 26 minutes Marseille's Ibrahim Ba picked up a booking when he brought the young Brazilian down and four minutes later Talal El Karkouri shot over from another PSG free-kick.
Ba put the ball against his own crossbar on 31 minutes and a mazy run by Ronaldinho from the rebound almost resulted in the opener but the Brazilian shot into the side netting. At the other end Djamel Belmadi missed Marseille's best chance after good work by Bakayoko.
Stormy second half
A stormy second half saw four bookings but no goals, although PSG came closest to breaking the deadlock. Arteta fired a good chance over the bar on 74 minutes after a lofted cross from Frédéric Déhu and PSG even had the ball in the net five minutes from time through Alex only for the effort to be disallowed for offside.
In the 89th minute PSG had a penalty appeal turned down and coach Fernandez was ordered into the stands by the referee for the vehemence of his appeals as a stormy game ended in controversy.
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