AC Ajaccio 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Blaise Matuidi
Paris Saint-Germain have opened up a five-point gap at the top of Ligue 1 after coming from behind to beat rock bottom Ajaccio 2-1 on the island of Corsica last night. Ezequiel Lavezzi scored for the second consecutive game and Blaie Matuidi got the all-important winner with a brave diving header in the 74th minute.
Laurent Blanc named an unchanged side from the one that dominated Brest in the week. That was good news for young Adrien Rabiot who continued in the absence of Marco Verratti in the midfield trio. Lavezzi also kept his place after a decent run out in the week where he netted his second goal of the campaign.
We started the proceedings fairly brightly. The team pressed high up the pitch and created a number of chances. It looked as if the leagues rock bottom team – nine points adrift from safety – were there for the taking but they sprang a huge surprise by taking the lead in the sixth minute via Eduardo. Les Parisiens did themselves no favours with the marking mind you as they were caught ball watching. A ball came in from the right which broke to Benjamin Andre who diverted it to the far post for the Brazilian Eduardo to tap home.
ACA who were the first visitors to the Parc des Princes this season and they were looking to give us another uncomfortable night, just as they did in August. On that occasion it took PSG 86 minutes before they beat the highly rated Guillermo Ochoa in goal and he made some pretty decent saves again.
Our overall performance for the next 30 minutes was mediocre at best in all honesty. I would not say the goal shook us as such but it certainly did not spark a reaction. Blanc on the touchline was chewing a toothpick vigorously – as you do – and you could sense his anxiety.
We did create a few openings, Lavezzi brought out a terrific save from Ochoa with his legs after some great endeavour down the left by Matuidi. Edinson Cavani produced a sterling effort that curled inches past the post after digging the ball from out of his feet. But Zlatan Ibrahimovic come the closest by smashing the foot of the post from a direct freekick.
Thankfully, the equaliser came via Lavezzi just before the interval. Just like London buses, you wait so long for one then two come along at once. That is the case with El Pocho as we had to wait quite a while for him to get off the mark this season. He has now netted two in two and three in total (the first coming last month in the 5-0 hammering of Sochaux).
After the interval, the performance was more of the same. We were very predictable. Not many chances created and understandably the home side were content with sitting back. To be honest, they did not show any signs of being overawed. They looked comfortable for long periods.
But, credit must go to Blanc. He bided his time and made a tactical change that eventually won us the game. Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura were brought on. Interestingly Alex was brought off for Pastore, which resulted in Thiago Motta dropping in at centre-half alogside Thiago Silva. That was in order to accommodate Pastore in a 4-4-2 as Ibra played up top with Cavani.
It was Pastore’s excellent footwork that enabled him to find a pocket of space before he dinked the ball into the box for Zlatan who nodded down for Matuidi to lunge in with his head and score the winner.
PSG bossed possession from then on but there were one or two hairy moments in the remaining five minutes, no more so than Eduardo more or less missing an open goal. Thankfully, the players held on for what is a huge victory. It was decisive to take advantage of Monaco dropping points the night before against Montpellier and to kick off 2014 with a first league win.