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Apr 29, 2013

Leonardo: Referee lost his head

PSG sporting director Leonardo said referee Olivier Thual "lost his head" when he sent off David Beckham, one of four players red-carded in the tempestuous 1-0 win at Evian on Sunday.

Beckham, 38, had been on the Parc des Sports pitch for less than ten minutes when he was shown a straight red card for a dangerous challenge on Youssef Adnane.

It was the former England captain's first dismissal since he was sent off while playing for LA Galaxy in August 2009.

PSG also had Marco Verratti and, after a brawl at the final whistle, 'keeper Salvatore Sirigu dismissed, while relegation-threatened Evian's Saber Khelifa was sent off for his part in the brawl.

"It was an important match for both teams: one fighting against relegation, the other for the title," Leonardo said as PSG took another big step towards the Ligue 1 crown.

"It was tense match, but there's no need to go over the top. The referee lost his cool."

He said the title was "within reach" for the big-spending Parisians, adding: "There are just four games left, and we're nine points ahead.

"We have to see things through. Certain people think it's normal, but it's not normal - PSG have been waiting for the title for 19 years."

Javier Pastore's 50th-minute strike gave Carlo Ancelotti's men a fifth straight league win, leaving them nine points clear of second-placed Marseille.

Next Sunday's home encounter with Valenciennes could - depending on Marseille's result against Bastia 24 hours earlier - see them clinch the title.

If Marseille fail to win, PSG need to better their result to finish top for the first time since 1994. Should both win, PSG's vastly-superior goal difference would make them champions in all but name.

Ancelotti said: "The title is very close. It would be a great opportunity to have a party with our fans."

However, the coach will also be without Verratti, dismissed after a second yellow card for dissent, and he said: "It's a shame, because Verratti had a fantastic game. He shouldn't have talked and got a red card."

PSG's France international midfielder Matuidi sparked the full-time flare-up after celebrating in front of the Evian bench.

Matuidi and Khalifa were ordered back onto the pitch to be shown red cards, but the PSG man remained in the dressing room after being asked to by club officials and is now likely to face a disciplinary hearing.

"Some might say it's only taking the mickey," Evian coach Pascal Dupraz said. That's not football. When you're an international, there's no need to get everyone worked up."

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