PSG breathe sigh of relief after trouble-free rout

December 14, 2006

PARIS, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Paris St Germain breathed a sigh of relief after an incident-free 4-0 rout of Panathinaikos took them through to the last 32 of the UEFA Cup.

EmpicsGuy Lacombe: Into next round.

'Smiles were back on our faces in the locker room and that's nice to see', defender Sylvain Armand told reporters after PSG's victory on Wednesday, their first match at the Parc des Princes since one of their fans was killed by a policeman.

'We played well and we needed this to be reconciled with our fans,' said Ivory Coast striker Bonaventure Kalou, who scored twice.

'Our fans really supported us and I'm not surprised because they really love this club.'

The PSG supporters were under close scrutiny with around 2,000 police on duty, but no incidents were reported.

The ground was far from full, the lower section of one of the stands where PSG's most extreme fans traditionally assemble having been closed on police orders until further notice.

'If playing in a half-empty stadium is the solution to some problems, we'll do it,' said Kalou. 'We know that our true fans will always come.'

A policeman shot dead 25-year-old Julien Quemener and injured another fan while under attack from supporters after PSG's previous home UEFA Cup match, a 4-2 defeat by Hapoel Tel Aviv on Nov. 23.

Witnesses said the policeman opened fire on a mob of PSG fans who were chasing a Jewish supporter of Israeli team Hapoel outside the stadium.

The fan's death triggered a nationwide debate about how to free soccer from violence and racism in France.

PSG, experiencing their worst start to a season and lying a miserable 15th in Ligue 1, will now host Nice in a game that was initally scheduled for Saturday night but has been moved to Sunday afternoon for security reasons.

'We need more wins,' said Armand. 'I'm persuaded that good results can solve some of the problems we're facing.'