Nine Man Rennes Stun The League Leaders


1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Nene


It was one of the most valiant performances from a visiting side to the Parc des Princes in recent years. Rennes managed to humble the league leaders 2-1 but did it with a two man deficit for almost the near entirety of the second-half.

Incredibly, much like ourselves last week at Montpellier, they went down to ten-men quite early on in the game. Goalkeeper Benoit Costil was given his marching orders in the 26th minute after taking out Jeremy Menez outside the penalty area. Referee Fredy Fautrel had no hesitation in brandishing the red card despite the replays showing that he did in fact get a touch on the ball. This all came after a frenetic start to the game.

The visitors started well and made it difficult for us by quelling our space in midfield. Although chances were few and far between it took a stroke of genius to break the deadlock and it came via Romain Alessandrini on the quarter of the hour mark. Zoumana Camara thought he dealt with the danger by diving in and blocking a through-ball but the it ended up sitting beautifully for the number 19 to hit first time on the volley with his left foot giving Salvatore Sirigu absolutely no chance.

That got a response from Les Parisiens and they began to press further up the pitch. The link-up play between Jeremy Menez, Javier Pastore and Nene was very good in particular and they were unhinging the Rennes defence.

Nene nearly got the equaliser after a fantastic run down the right by Ezequiel Lavezzi who cut inside before playing the ball across the face of goal for the Brazilian at the back-post who rattled the post.

Minutes later, Nene made no mistake and levelled things up in the 21st minute with a stunning goal. Pastore did ever so well to slide the ball through for the masked crusader who bore in on goal before diligently chipping the goalkeeper with pure ease. It really was a world-class finish from a player who looked revitalised.

Minutes later the red card for Fautrel occurred. The decision angered Rennes coach Frederic Antonetti that much that he pulled off his coat before throwing it to the floor in blind rage. Understandably, he could be forgiven for fearing the worst for his team. He brought off former PSG striker Mevlut Erding in place of backup goalkeeper Cheick N’Diaye who would go on to have a sterling game.

Amazingly, Rennes would go on to take the lead for a second time, this time from a dead ball situation. Julien Feret curled his freekick round the Parisien wall superbly to the left of Sirigu who dived full stretch but to no avail. It all came from a sloppy piece of play by Blaise Matuidi who was dispossessed before committing the foul.

Carlo Ancelotti made a baffling decision six minutes before half-time by taking off Menez to the player’s bemusement and he ended up going straight down the tunnel. It was unclear at the time as to why he was subbed but he certainly was not carrying an injury by the look of things. Guillaume Hoarau was brought on his place to give the side a proper all out centre-forward.

After the interval, it was all PSG and this was helped by the second red card of the evening for on-loan Aston Villa midfielder Jean Makoun who clumsily took out Nene resulting in his second yellow card. We literally threw the kitchen sink but were up against the gods and an inspired goalkeeping display from N’Diaye who continually came to his sides recue.

One moment of pandemonium really summed up PSG’s night. After some beautiful football, Guillaume Hoarau hit the crossbar with his head before the ball made its way to the edge of the box for Pastore whose fierce effort smashed the post. It just was not going to be our night and we could not find that elusive equaliser.

We pressed, and pressed but the nine-men dug in. They had their hearts in their mouths when Pastore broke into the box in stoppage time but his shot was blocked by N’Diaye yet again.

Rennes held on and the scenes at the end were incredible. It was as if they won the league and the boos echoed round the Parc, deafening anyone or anything in the vicinity. It was hostile to say the least.

It is such a bad result for us. Not only do Rennes leap up the table, they are now just a point behind us. Depending on other results over the course of the weekend, we will not only be knocked off the top but we could end up sliding down the table.

Ancelotti will no doubt regroup his players as he builds up for midweek Champions League clash in Kiev where qualification can be sealed. That will be a good start in getting back on track with a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic in tandem.

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