PARIS — Despite one of the smallest budgets in the top flight, promoted Strasbourg produced the biggest upset in the French league so far by beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Saturday.
Strasbourg, just above the relegation zone, inflicted on the super-rich Qatari-backed team its first loss in 22 matches in all competitions.
The northeastern side had only two chances and converted both while PSG wasted a lot in the second half after a poor start.
Strasbourg defended relentlessly during nine minutes of stoppage time, and became the first promoted team to beat PSG since Reims in 2013.
"To beat such a team, you need to have all planets aligned and to surpass yourself," Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey said.
"The lads fought like lions. I’m very proud to coach this team. If we don’t get carried away, we can think about staying in the top flight."
Edinson Cavani, the league top scorer with 17, was on the bench for PSG ahead of the Champions League game at Bayern Munich. Angel Di Maria started alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
PSG coach Unai Emery also named Italy international Marco Verratti among the substitutes, replacing him with Javier Pastore in midfield. Without the two, PSG looked unbalanced early on and played at a pedestrian pace.
In freezing temperatures at La Meinau Stadium, Strasbourg applied an intense and physical press that made PSG labour to create chances.
The deadlock was broken on a set-piece. PSG’s defence was caught cold in the 13th minute when Nuno Da Costa beat the offside trap and found himself alone in front of goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to head home a pass from Dimitri Lienard.
PSG’s reaction was weak. Mbappe and Neymar struggled.
The visitors sped up the pace near the end of the first half. Neymar and Adrien Rabiot set up Mbappe, who made no mistake from close range.
Pastore hit the post soon after. PSG retained the upper hand after the interval but couldn’t finish chances.
PSG was made to pay for its profligacy with 25 minutes left when Da Costa headed down a long kick from the goalkeeper into Stephane Bahoken’s path. The forward sped past defender Yuri Berchiche and fired home from a close angle.
Cavani went on for the last 15 minutes and had a chance in added time with a deflection but goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja, who replaced injured starter Bingourou Kamara, blocked his effort.
A mainstay of French football, Strasbourg has won the league once as well as three French Cups and a couple of League Cups. But the club encountered serious financial problems after being relegated to the second division in 2008 and entered liquidation in 2011. After years of instability, the club has restored a healthy financial model, and gained promotion by winning Ligue 2 last season.
MONACO BOUNCES BACK
Radamel Falcao scored his first league goal in more than a month to end defending champion Monaco’s bad patch.
The Colombian striker scored his 14th this season — his first since Oct. 21 — and it was enough for Monaco to secure a scrappy 1-0 win over Angers following three consecutive losses in all competitions.
Monaco moved back to second in the standings, nine points behind PSG.
Nice produced back-to-back wins for the first time since September and moved four points away from the relegation zone.
The Riviera side, which finished third last season, beat last-place Metz 3-1.
Lille defeated Toulouse 1-0, Rennes beat Amiens 2-0, and struggling Guingamp won at Troyes 1-0.