AS Saint-Etienne 0-1 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Paris Saint-Germain have rounded off a remarkable year with a 1-0 victory away to Saint Etienne, not only propelling them to the top of Ligue 1 at the expense of Montpellier but also opening up a three point gap heading into the New Year.
Mathieu Bodmer’s deflected effort off goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier in the 32nd minute was enough to ensure the capital club took the spoils back home and sign off for the winter break in the best possible way.
The hosts started somewhat brighter than their guests, who had to rely on the in-form Salvatore Sirigu in guarding the onion bag. Florent Sinama Pongolle, who had netted three in his last five outings before the game, posed as a potent threat to the Parisian backline, bringing out a number of saves from the Italian international.
Defender Sylvain Marchal was a thorn in the side of the PSG attack. First off by denying Kevin Gameiro with a last ditch to tackle to prevent him from opening the scoring, then forbidding Javier Pastore from tapping the ball into the net after the Argentine had rounded Ruffier.
Although much of the play was scrappy and laboured in the middle of the park, PSG profited from a slice of good fortune in opening the scoring. Bodmer peeled away from his marker Jean Mignot to get his head on Nene’s floated corner which rattled the post before going in off Ruffier’s trailing hand.
Despite the goal, the defence still looked frail at times as Les Verts looked to capitalise down the flanks – primarily Faouzi Ghoulam who was sprite throughout.
For all their possession, Saint-Etienne struggled to carve out any real clear cut opportunities after the interval as Antoine Kombouare’s side kept their discipline and dug in deep to quell their attack.
Paris still threatened on the counter attack, Gameiro hit the post after latching on to a ball from Nene on the overlap and his subsequent shot rattled the woodwork.
Striker Pierre Aubameyang gave the defence food for thought on a number of occasions but the Gabon international met his match in Sirigu who threw his body in front of just about everything.
PSG had opportunities to kill the game off in the dying embers via Menez and Gameiro but ultimately held on for a valiant victory to crown them winter champions.
Montpellier’s shock 4-2 loss away to Evian means they now slip to second place, three points behind the leaders. Kombouare’s team will now go on a short break for the holiday season and will return to training at the end of the month before travelling to Qatar to prepare for the remaining five months of the season.
Here is to an exciting 2012!