Paris Saint-Germain’s nine-match winning run in Ligue 1 was brought to a halt on Tuesday as they were held to a 0-0 draw away to promoted Angers.
In other matches Lyon battled Nantes to a goalless stalemate in Brittany while there were no goals between Lorient and Nice on a barren night for celebrations in France.
PSG, the reigning champions dropped points for just the third time this season after being unable to break down the division’s tightest defence behind that of their own at the Stade Jean Bouin.
The result left PSG on 42 points from 16 matches but still 14 points clear of nearest challengers Caen, who visit Monaco on Wednesday, with Angers one point further back in third.
“I think everyone has seen it and we were fully aware of how this Angers team plays. It’s not easy to play a team like that,” said PSG coach Laurent Blanc.
“The key to a match like this one is the first 15 to 20 minutes. As long as you don’t score the first goal, Angers don’t waver from their principles.
“They’ve picked up 27 points like that, you have to commend them for it,” he added.
With six games in a 19-day stretch leading up to the winter break, Blanc has made no secret of his desire to rotate his squad.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who drew level with Mustapha Dahleb’s club-record 85 top-flight goals over the weekend, dropped to the bench while Serge Aurier made his first league start since October in defence.
Blaise Matuidi also returned to the side after being used as a substitute in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Troyes, while Adrien Rabiot again kept his place in midfield after impressing in recent weeks.
PSG were bidding to stretch their unbeaten league run to 25 games and nearly grabbed a fifth-minute lead when Edinson Cavani connected with a corner, only for the Uruguayan’s glancing header to bounce back off the near post.
Aurier then forced Angers goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle, who had kept nine clean sheets in 15 appearances prior to Tuesday, into a sharp save with a fierce angled drive.
But the home side were again rescued by the woodwork on 33 minutes when Angel Di Maria weaved his way in from the right side of the penalty area before seeing his curling left-footed strike smack against the far post.
Angers also struck the frame of the goal when a looping header from Romain Saiss dropped onto the top of the crossbar and bounced over, although PSG keeper Kevin Trapp appeared to have it covered.
The hosts went even closer three minutes into the second half when skipper Cheikh Ndoye rose to meet a corner, but Trapp made a fine stop from point-blank range to thwart the Senegalese midfielder.
Saiss again caused trouble from a set-piece, this time at his own end, as he flicked a cross towards his own goal with Butelle doing well to turn it over.
Ibrahimovic replaced Lucas Moura on 71 minutes but PSG were still unable to find a way past Butelle who clawed away Rabiot’s low strike late on that was destined for the bottom corner to preserve a hard-earned point for Angers.
Nice missed the chance to leapfrog Angers into third when they were held to a 0-0 draw at mid-table Lorient.
Lyon’s point at Nantes kept them in fourth position while the Canaries remain 10th after their goalless draw. – Agence France-Presse