Evian Thonon Gaillard 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Javier Pastore
Evian vs Paris Saint-Germain is not exactly a fixture that echoes bad blood but you would have thought otherwise last night. Four sending offs – three from PSG – marred a huge Parisien victory at the Parc des Sports which puts us within a win of becoming champions.
Javier Pastore’s winner will unfortunately not be the talk in France today after what transpired in the latter part of the game. It is unfortunate because for 80 odd minutes, we put in an efficient performance. Not exactly pulling up trees but controlling the game. Pastore rounded off a wonderful move after the interval in which Jeremy Menez stretched the play for Christophe Jallet out wide who cut the ball back for El Flaco to finish first time with aplomb.
We had chances to kill the game off, notably via Zlatan Ibrahimovic who blazed over from four-yards out after Marco Verratti hit the bar. Then Ezequiel Lavezzi, a minute after, did well to round goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait but took way too much time to finish and ended up hitting the back of Cedric Mongongu.
But, the real drama came within the last 10 minutes of the game. Verratti had been walking a tightrope all night after being brandished a yellow card in the first-half for a cynical trip. Multiple times in the second-half, referee Olivier Thual was rather lenient towards him despite committing a number of fouls. He ultimately lost patience when the Italian obstructed Evian from taking a freekick by picking the ball up. The reaction of Carlo Ancelotti was staggering as he got up in the 19-year-old’s face, wagging his finger and barking his disapproval. He had every right to as well but it was strange that Carlo had not taken him off beforehand. It was evident for all to see that Verratti was on the cusp of being dismissed. I feel inclined to say that it was a ploy for some tough love on the part of Ancelotti? How else will the young man learn? He has had a remarkable debut season, amazing for such a young lad but he has a petulant streak that needs to be addressed.
David Beckham was brought on as a result to shore things up in midfield but ultimately made things worse. One thing you would associate the Englishman with is professionalism but yet again he came off the bench and started a row on an opposing player. He has done this countless times since signing for the club and it really is turning into an annoying trait. This then culminated in a high footed lunge on Youssef Adnane and was brandished a straight red card to his dismay – reducing PSG to nine-men. Ancelotti’s face said it all, stunned by what had transpired in the space of five minutes. Beckham did not make contact but in Ligue 1, when you go in for a challenge like that you are asking for trouble.
Evian smelt blood and piled the pressure on in the dying embers. It would have been sickening to throw the game away due to our own stupidity.
Upon the final whistle, a mass brawl ensued after Blaise Matuidi was sprayed in the face with a water bottle before being slapped by Evian’s Saber Khelifa. That sparked unsavoury scenes in which Salvatore Sirigu was so riled up he got in the midst of it all, resulting in him being sent off nearly 10 minutes after the game along with Khelifa who was kept on the pitch by the referee. It appears the referee was waiting for Sirigu to come back onto the pitch to receive his red but was kept back in the locker room by PSG staff. Remarkable television if you were watching.
There will be repercussions from this by the FFF, no doubt about it and there could be some lengthy bans in store. Whether or not these suspensions are immediate remain to be seen but it is such a shame, especially for Verratti and Sirigu if they are to miss out on a title clincher at home to Valenciennes next week.
It is just a pity that we cannot be overjoyed by the fact that we are within touching distance of the championship. Instead we are left to deal with the bitterness from an ugly night.