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Feb 24, 2013

Beckham makes winning debut for PSG

David Beckham made his Paris Saint-Germain bow Sunday and enjoyed the perfect start as his new side delivered a vital 2-0 win over rival Marseille on Sunday.

Former England captain Beckham joined PSG on a five-month deal in January and came off the bench to make his debut at the Parc des Princes, helping to lay-on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's injury-time clincher.

The opener had arrived from a player signed with the long term in mind, with Lucas Moura, a fellow January arrival, scoring a deflected first-half goal.

The upshot was that Carlo Ancelotti's men saw off one of their fellow title challengers and moved three points ahead of Lyon at the top.

Lyon had earlier beaten Lorient 3-1 to move level with PSG at the summit and Marseille started five points behind the pair, meaning the stakes could not have been higher.

With Beckham's debut expected the interest was bigger than usual too, although with him starting on the bench it was left to others to make the early headlines.

Ibrahimovic, who was largely disappointing on the night, had the first effort with a low free kick, but it did not take long for Lucas to open the scoring, his goal coming 11 minutes in.

The Brazilian jinked inside a marker from the right and opened his body to shoot, with his 25-yard effort brushing the defending Joey Barton and then clattering into Nicolas N'Koulou, with that deflection enough to wrong-foot Steve Mandanda and put PSG ahead.

Beckham joined in the celebrations on the bench and his teammates on the pitch were relatively untroubled afterwards, with Andre Ayew, Marseille's liveliest forward, lucky not to avoid injury himself as he chopped down Ibrahimovic.

But Barton then rose high to get his head on a Rod Fanni cross, albeit without direction, and Foued Kadir did well to get into the box but was denied by Salvatore Sirigu as the visitors stepped up the pace.

Ibrahimovic could have made it two before the break but dallied after being set free and, as the action intensified, Mathieu Valbuena worked Sirigu at one end and Ezequiel Lavezzi was denied a penalty at the other as he collided with N'Koulou.

Sirigu was quickly emerging as PSG`s best player and he denied Andre-Pierre Gignac after the break, although the officials did him a disservice by not awarding a corner.

The hapless N'Koulou was then booked for diving as he hunted a penalty and Ayew was kept out by Sirigu, before the crowd got what they wanted when Beckham replaced Javier Pastore with 76 minutes gone.

His first touch was an excellent curled pass to the right, but despite his calming presence, PSG remained on the backfoot and Fanni's brilliant volley was thumped away by Sirigu.

Beckham would have a say at the other end, though, and with seconds of injury time left he chipped a pass into the left-hand channel of the area for Jeremy Menez, whose cross was tucked in by Ibrahimovic for a clinching 22nd goal of the season.

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