David Beckham came off the bench for his Paris Saint-Germain debut in a 2-0 win against Marseille that kept his new team three points clear atop French soccer’s Ligue 1. Inter and AC Milan drew 1-1 in Italy.
Former England captain Beckham, who joined PSG on a five- month contract at the end of January, helped set up Zlatan Ibrahimovic for PSG’s second goal after coming on as a 76th- minute substitute in Paris last night. Nicolas N’Koulou’s own goal had put the home team ahead in the 11th minute.
The 37-year-old Beckham, who played his last official match Dec. 1 when his former team Los Angeles Galaxy won the MLS Cup, exchanged passes with Jeremy Menez, who then crossed the ball for Swedish striker Ibrahimovic to score his league-leading 22nd goal of the season in stoppage time.
“I’m very happy tonight, especially with the win,” Beckham said in comments on PSG’s website. “The welcome from the supporters was incredible. It was a perfect day.”
The win lifted PSG, seeking its first league championship since 1994, to 54 points atop the standings. Lyon is three points back following yesterday’s 3-1 home win against Lorient.
In Italy, AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli missed several chances against former team Inter in his first all-Milan matchup for more than three years.
Stephan El Shaarawy put the Rossoneri ahead in the 21st minute and Inter midfielder Ezequiel Schelotto tied the game with 19 minutes remaining. The result left AC Milan in third place, 13 points behind leader Juventus, which beat Siena 3-0 to extend its lead over second-place Napoli to seven points.
“We have a good balance in the team at the moment and we have to keep on pushing forward,” El Shaarawy said. “It was a really special game for Balotelli as the whistles from the fans were loud but he’s a real champion and he’ll be back.”
Napoli, which has 51 points, visits Udinese today, while fourth-place Lazio meets Pescara.
Ten-man Atletico Madrid beat Espanyol 1-0 on Radamel Falcao’s first-half penalty kick yesterday to remain 12 points behind Spanish league leader Barcelona. Gabi was red-carded at the end of the first half after getting his second yellow card.
Barca came from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 two days ago as Lionel Messi scored in his record-extending 15th straight game in La Liga. Real Madrid won 2-1 at Deportivo La Coruna.
Barcelona has 68 points, Atletico 56 and Real Madrid 52. Fourth-place Malaga lost ground on the top three following its 3-0 defeat at Real Betis last night.
PSV has 50 points, Ajax 48 and Feyenoord 47.
To contact the reporter on this story: Peter-Joseph Hegarty in London at email@example.com.