It WAS not meant to be for Paris Saint-Germain in the Ligue 1 title race as Montpellier pipped them to the post. Even the most fanatical PSG supporter would admit that the odds were stacked against the team heading into the final game, three points adrift of the eventual champions but they did not go down without a fight.
Javier Pastore and Thiago Motta got the goals in a 2-1 win away to Lorient as Montpellier got the job done at relegated Auxerre with the same scoreline. However, many of the headlines today will detract from Montpellier’s superb achievement due to crowd trouble at the Stade de l’Abbe resulting in a stand having to be evacuated midway through the second-half. Auxerre supporters, distressed at their club’s plight, hurled everything from toilet rolls, tomatoes, tennis balls and even flares onto the pitch. The game was delayed for so long, it finished a good 45 minutes or so after PSG had ended their campaign. Regardless, with the game tied at 1-1 John Utaka popped up with the all important goal to give his club their first ever Ligue 1 title.
Congratulations to Montpellier, they are more than worthy winners and have proved dreams can come true. They were 80/1 at the beginning of the season to win the title…amazing.
As for ourselves, we demonstrated a good attitude in Lorient and responded well to falling behind via a Kevin Monnet-Paquet header on the half-hour mark. The Frenchman peeled away from Zoumana Camara with ease to head home Lucas Mareque’s delightful cross. In truth, the hosts had the better off it in the opening half.
Les Parisiens responded well to the concession of the goal but Javier Pastore squandered two fantastic chances to draw level. First he got in behind the defence but fluffed his lines with the finish, smashing it straight at goalkeeper Jeremie Janot. Then he hit the bar as Kevin Gameiro did brilliantly to pull the ball back for him down the left but the Argentine hit the ball into the ground which bounced off the woodwork. That led to the PSG supporters behind the goal pelting the pitch with flares resulting in a10 minute delay. Like the scenes in Auxerre, totally unacceptable and scarred what should have been a terrific night for French football.
The visitors finally drew level on the hour through Pastore who got his head on Christophe Jallet’s cross which hit the post but capitalised on the rebound to tuck home. Thiago Motta then made it 2-1 with a header of his own from a Nene corner with 15 minutes to play to distress the home supporters who were contemplating relegation.
In the end they survived, but PSG will be left to rue missed opportunities during the season including unnecessary draws against the likes of Caen and Nice which have effectively cost them the title. Nevertheless, it should not deter the fact this has been a terrific season and the goal to qualify for the UEFA Champions League has been achieved. Something we can all look forward to next season!