Olympique de Marseille 2-2 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Blaise Matuidi
Paris Saint-Germain earned a vital 2-2 draw over league leaders Marseille on Sunday night in the Classique thanks to a stunning first-half brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Unsurprisingly coach Carlo Ancelotti recalled Javier Pastore, Alex and Christophe Jallet back into the team after starting on the bench for the midweek disappointment in Portugal. Pastore accompanied Menez who played just off the top-scorer Ibrahimovic.
Incidentally, it was good to see for the first in recent years the PSG supporters in the Stade Velodrome for a Classique. Visiting fans in this fixture have been barred of late due to disturbances between the two but the small pocket who travelled from the capital made themselves heard.
The hosts started the better in truth. Andre Pierre-Gignac, OM’s top scorer had the first real effort on goal. The Frenchman did superbly to take the ball under control in the box but his swivelled shot was blazed over the bar. Les Parisiens then showed their capabilities going forward. Some nice interplay eventually saw Marco Verratti pick out Pastore just on the edge of the box but he too was unable to get his shot on target.
Then in the 17th minutes Les Phoceens took the lead via Gignac. The big man showed the agility of a Mathieu Valbuena to turn Jallet inside out on the edge of the box before firing across Salvatore Sirigu which gave the Italian no chance as the ball rustled into the corner of the net.
That seemed to spark Ancelotti’s men into life, in particular Ibra who turned the game on its head singlehandedly. The Swede produced a piece of magic to flick home a Maxwell corner so elegantly yet precise, making it look so easy. Minutes later he rifled a vicious free-kick past Mandanda’s right to the delight of the travelling support. At this point you could hear a pin drop inside the Velodrome.
Nevertheless, just as we were looking to take control of the game, Marseille’s man of the moment Gignac popped up again with a timely equaliser. He eluded his marker in the box to head Valbuena’s corner past Sirigu just after the half-hour mark.
At half-time, Ancelotti brought on Kevin Gameiro in place of Pastore. It was a surprising change – even though Pastore did not pull trees in the first-half – he is still an integral cog in the way we play. Gameiro supported Zlatan as we utilised the diamond formation.
Chances were few and far between after the interval but the best occurred within the space of a minute. First, Les Parisiens had theirs as Menez cleverly threaded the ball in for Menez in the penalty area but he smashed it into the side netting. Then at the other- end, Marseille squandered theirs with Andre Ayew heading into the ground via a cross from the right – which had he got clean contact, would have perhaps put his team into the lead.
Ancelotti’s two remaining substitutes had a defensive feel to them to say the least. First Sylvain Armand was brought on for Marco Verratti, who was on a yellow card and then Gregory Van der Wiel for Menez who had looked dangerous despite the lack of attacking intent. It was evident ‘Carletto’ was content for the draw and that is how it panned out.
From a personal point of view I cannot help but feel we missed an opportunity to really take the game to OM, particularly in the second-half. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic result as we continue the domestic season unbeaten and remain in touching distance with the league leaders. We will fancy our chances to continue that trait over the winter and hopefully overhaul Elie Baup’s team.
Special praise must be heaped on Ibrahimovic who more or less turned the entirety of the game on its head. It is an improvement on our visit to the Velodrome last season where were soundly beaten 3-0.