Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 AC Ajaccio
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Guillermo Ochoa
Over 30 shots on goal, nearly 700 passes and 80% possession, yet Paris Saint-Germain could not score more than one goal against Ajaccio’s hero in between the sticks Guillermo Ochoa. Les Parisiens threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Mexican who was in subhuman form to prevent the champions from running away with a comprehensive victory. The only time he was beaten was thanks to a wonderful piece of individual play by Edinson Cavani on his full league debut. You get what you pay for and his goal typified that with a thunderous strike with five minutes left the on the clock.
Prior to the game Laurent Blanc made his decision to bring in Cavani but did it at the expense of Ezequiel Lavezzi which I found to be a surprise. He opted to keep Javier Pastore in the team who was on the left-hand side as Lucas Moura operated down the right. Thiago Motta returned to the side and had a terrific game in the centre alongside Blaise Matuidi. BM unfortunately had to go off in the second-half after splitting his head open after a nasty clash of heads with Joshua Nadeau.
Despite our early pressure we found it difficult to really cut ACA apart in the opening quarter. It was they who struck the first blow with a superb strike from Benoit Pedretti. The Frenchman who arrived from Lille in the summer swept his effort in superbly via Adrian Mutu’s layoff which gave Salvatore Sirigu absolutely no chance. It would turn out to be the Corsican side’s only shot on goal.
We responded well after that. A lot of our play was intricate and along the 18-yard line. We were not creating hatful chances but enough nevertheless. Pastore, Ibrahimovic and Cavani in particular showed their understanding with some well-crafted moves. Matuidi who has bigger lungs than anyone on the pitch kept trying to run in behind the defence to open the Ajaccio defence up which he did on a number of occasions.
After the interval, it was more of the same. We bossed possession, created chances but we was up against a goalkeeper that was having one of the games of his life.
Pastore who came off was booed by the Parisien fans as Lavezzi came on in his place. JP had a much better game in my opinion but it was evident that the injection of Lavezzi’s pace picked us up another gear. Cavani instantaneously nearly headed one home via Christophe Jallet’s sweeping ball in. Then immediately after that Alex had a header cleared off the line.
With time ticking away and just after Thiago Silva smashed his header off the bar, Cavani introduced himself well and truly to his new adoring public. Vintage EC, he bamboozled his marker on the edge of the box, turned, found the space to shoot and arrowed one on the top left-hand corner. It was a stunning finish and it looked for the entire world we would go on to win.
Another effort was cleared off the line, Lavezzi had a penalty shout turned away, Silva hit the bar with a thunderbolt of a shot outside the box and Marco Verratti squandered a golden chance at the back post as the referee blew for full time.
You cannot fault the effort of the players, they threw everything at Ajaccio who to their credit, showed real desire and organisation to go back to Corsica with a point. But, what an amazing game nevertheless that showed just how fine the margins are between winning and losing.
We are four points off the leading pack but that should not be too much of a concern as yet. The team played well but lacked that killer instinct which will come in time.
Cavani’s goal will give him a boost. If he can score a goal like that not fully fit, what will he be liked when he is? He played well too, linked up well with his peers and showed signs of his predatory instincts within the box. He is going to be a superstar in the capital!