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PSG begin title defence with victory one man down

media Laurent Blanc is hoping to lead PSG to a third consecutive title since he took over in 2013. Reuters/Pascal Rossigno

Reduced to 10 men after only 30 minutes, champions PSG showed their fighting spirit by edging past an ultimately tentative Lille side in the first game of the new Ligue 1 season.

Championship contenders Marseille and Monaco get the chance on Saturday to respond to Paris Saint Germain's successful start to the defence of their Ligue 1 title.

Marseille, who finished fourth last season, welcome Caen to the Velodrome, while Monaco travel along the Mediterranean coast to play at Nice.

On Friday night PSG edged past Lille 1-0. Lucas Moura got the only goal of the game after 57 minutes. The victory was all the more remarkable as PSG were reduced to 10 men half an hour into the encounter.

Midfielder Adrien Rabot was expelled for his second yellow card in the space of five minutes.

Rabiot picked up the first one after 22 minutes for a crude tackle on Lille midfielder Florent Balmont, and minutes later he was sent off by referee Fredy Fautrel for a foul on defender Sebastian Corchia.

It was a rash way to repay the faith of coach Laurent Blanc who preferred to start 20-year-old Rabiot instead of the more experienced Thiago Motta. "It's a fact of the game," said Blanc of Rabiot's expulsion.

"The first card was perhaps a little severe, the second foul was an error of youth: when you have a yellow card you don't get a second."

Blanc, who is looking to lead PSG to a third consecutive title since he took over in 2013, added: "His second yellow card was very prejudicial for the team. But perhaps it was that which galvanised us. But I prefer playing with eleven men."

Blanc's counterpart Hervé Renard rued his side's inability to exploit their advantage.

"I feel a great sense of frustration," said the 46-year-old who took charge of Lille at the end of last season.

"We can have a lot of regrets. Everything wasn't perfect but with a bit more determination and a bit of daring, we could have got at least a draw. But you can't cause your rivals problems when you're afraid."

Renard, who led Cote D'Ivoire to the Africa Cup of Nations title in February, added: "It was a PSG playing with 10 men. Of course they have quality players, they are the French champions, but if they found themselves at 10 it was because of our good pressing. We had a great opportunity."

It was Lille's first loss in the opening game of the season since 2009. For PSG, it was their first victory at the campaign's outset since their Qatari owners took control in 2011.

"Starting the championship in these circumstances with three points at Lille, it's very good," said Blanc. "It bodes well for what's to come. For some time now, as a group, we've been getting better and better. And if you add that we had no injuries, it's really a very good night."

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