Ten-man Paris Saint-Germain began their Ligue 1 title defence with a battling 1-0 victory over Lille at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Friday.
With the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic and new recruit Angel Di Maria watching from the stands, Laurent Blanc’s men looked to be up against it when they lost Adrien Rabiot to a senseless red card with only 28 minutes on the clock.
However, the visitors dug deep and pinched the points courtesy of a superbly-constructed goal from Lucas Moura just short of the hour mark.
The result marked the first time since 2010 that PSG have started their league campaign with a win and although they rarely resembled the side that swept all before them en route to an historic domestic treble last season, Blanc will certainly have been heartened by his side’s resolve.
New Lille boss Herve Renard, meanwhile, is sure to have been disappointed by his charges’ failure to exploit the numerical advantage that they enjoyed for more than two-thirds of the game.
A fractious first half contained far more in the way of niggling fouls than goalmouth incident, with half-chances to Javier Pastore and Sehrou Guirassy as close as either side came to breaking the deadlock.
PSG began the brighter, with Blaise Matuidi particularly influential, but the hosts gradually forced their way into the contest as the half wore on and continued to look the more likely after Rabiot’s recklessness provided them with a huge boost.
Moments after picking up a yellow card for a foul on Florent Balmont, the France Under-21 international midfielder tugged Sebastien Corchia to the ground to earn his marching orders.
To their credit, however, PSG retained their defensive shape well and hit Lille with a classic sucker-punch on 57 minutes.
Matuidi and Edinson Cavani were the architects, exchanging passes to create the space for Lucas and the Brazilian international stylishly rounded the goalkeeper before sliding the ball into an empty net.
Having fallen behind, Renard’s side swiftly seemed to run out of ideas in attack and, with substitute Thiago Motta impressing in midfield, PSG rarely looked troubled.
And there was more woe for the home team late on as Djibril Sidibe was taken from the field on a stretcher.
Lille’s tough start to the campaign continues next Friday with a trip to Monaco, while PSG will be strongly backed to beat Gazelec Ajaccio at Parc de Princes next Sunday.