Poleaxed PSG now pushing for pole position

PARIS - When Paris Saint-Germain's goalkeeper poleaxed his own defender this month and their players were seen jumping up and down on the spot trying to keep warm in minus 15 degrees Celsius temperatures, eyes rolled among their fans.

Now all seems rosy again after last weekend's flowing 3-0 win at Nice and leaders Lille's loss to Montpellier.

PSG, who host faltering Toulouse on Sunday, are fifth but only four points off the top and can make up more ground if Lille stutter at home to in-form Olympique Lyon also on Sunday.

With third-placed Olympique Marseille and Lyon in fourth possibly distracted by the Champions League, and with top two Lille and Stade Rennes lacking title run-in experience, PSG are emerging as real challengers this season after seasons of woe.

"The idea is to win at all costs to help our position in the table," coach Antoine Kombouare told reporters.

"There are 14 matches left, there is still a way to go, but our form is important for our confidence and calmness." Keeper Apoula Edel sent centre-back Sylvain Armand flying when he charged out of goal in the 0-0 home draw with Racing Lens on February 12 and fans feared the defender could be out for some time.

Instead he made a quick recovery from various injuries to score the final goal at Nice.

Last week PSG, decked out in gloves and stockings, were shivering in Belarus against BATE Borisov but they came away with a confidence-boosting 2-2 draw despite the icy cold.

Having not won the title since 1994 and with recent seasons marred by fan violence, PSG supporters are not yet ready to declare their hopes of a championship but with things so tight at the top they have as good a chance as any side.

Lille are feeling the heat after last weekend's defeat and a meeting with Lyon, fresh from their laudable 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 first leg, is the last game they wanted.

Stade Rennes, just two points behind in second, can increase the pressure with a win at home to second-bottom Racing Lens on Saturday while champions Marseille are at AS Nancy on Sunday.