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Dec 5, 2012

PSG players respond to Ancelotti criticism

Paris Saint-Germain boss Carlo Ancelotti has praised his players for recovering from a bad run of form to take top spot in their Champions League group with a 2-1 win over Porto on Tuesday.

• Blog: Pressure eased for Ancelotti

Ancelotti questioned his side's attitude on Monday after a 2-1 loss at Nice saw them drop into fourth place in Ligue 1.

But goals to Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi gave Ancelotti cause for optimism ahead of the Parisians' clash with Evian Thonon Gaillard this weekend.

"It was a good match with a good reaction from the team, which showed its character and courage," Ancelotti told PSG's official website. "Tonight [Tuesday], against a good team in Porto, there was everything that I want to see from my players. The pride of this team, the quality, it's always difficult to build a team so quickly. I am confident."

With some of the pressure on Ancelotti relieved following the win, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi also paid tribute to the growth of the club.

"This is a very important victory," Al-Khelaifi said. "I am very happy with the game, but not just because we won. I'm in a happy state of mind. I loved the reaction of the team tonight. We're still here, have qualified for [our] eighth final, with first place in the group key. It is very important to us."

Thiago Silva has acknowledged PSG make more of an effort to focus their minds in the Champions League than in Ligue 1 after helping his team defeat Porto to finish as Group A winners. The team's determined display brought praise from many quarters, including coach Carlo Ancelotti, and was in stark contrast to the side's lacklustre recent domestic outings. "You're a lot more focussed when you have a big team up against you than when you're facing Ligue 1 teams," Thiago Silva said. "I'm going to be honest with you. We focus a lot more for Champions League matches. It's not good, but we give a lot more of ourselves in this competition." The PSG players were not the only ones feeling more generous with their victory owing much to a glaring error by Porto goalkeeper Helton, who allowed an Ezequiel Lavezzi shot to squirm underneath him and into the net. Though the match-winner may have been fortuitous, Ancelotti insisted the victory was not merely the fruit of chance. "We put in a good display. We needed it. The criticism has been robust, and the players reacted with pride, quality, attitude and spirit on the pitch. To finish top of the group with 15 points is good for the confidence," said the Italian, who dismissed recent speculation that dressing room cliques had harmed team performance. "That a Brazilian talks to another Brazilian is normal. I treat all the players the same. I want each player to be professional and work for the team. That's what counts for me: their relationship on the pitch, and that relationship existed [last night] and was very good. There's no problem between the players. A lot of players have come in, it's a new dressing room and it takes time to build relationships."

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