AS Monaco 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Thiago Silva
Had it not been for a late Thiago Silva own goal at the Stade Louis II last night, the general consensus may have thought that the Ligue 1 title race was done and dusted. Les Parisiens led for a huge portion against AS Monaco last night only to be outdone by a piece of rotten luck as the skipper turned the ball into his own net. With a win that would have opened up an eight point gap but instead we will have to make do with just the five. Nevertheless, Les Parisiens showed a lot of bottle to get a result at the principality and had to dig in deep. Getting a point there is a huge positive, no doubt about it.
Before the game there was speculation that Javier Pastore may start on the left-hand side in place of Ezequiel Lavezzi. Although this is a position where ‘El Flaco’ has not been overly influential before, the rumours were true. The Argentine started there with Lucas Moura on the opposite side and of course Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing through the middle. Pastore excelled, he was absolutely brilliant at times. His confidence is back, he looked bright on the ball and his link-up play was excellent. To top it off, he treated us to a collector’s item with a headed goal in the seventh minute to open the scoring. Thiago Motta’s corner was met by the head of Alex before Pastore got the final glancing touch with his head. That sent the travelling contingent from Paris into raptures and stunned the Stade Louis.
But, the response from the hosts was frenetic. We had to weather a storm from then as the seven time Ligue 1 winners created chance after chance. Marco Verratti tried to dribble out on the edge of his own area and nearly cost us as Lucas Ocampos got onto the ball and his shot was well saved by Salvatore Sirigu. Then Thiago Silva produced a world class last ditch tackle to deny Emmanuel Riviere from netting. The Parisien captain had no right to make such a tackle, proving again that he is the world’s best centre back.
Ocampos was very sprite in the first-half. His involvement again subsequently led to a Joao Moutinho volley creeping just wide. Just before that, we could have been 2-0 up as a teasing cross from Maxwell eluded Ibra in the penalty area and he could only manage to brush his foot against the ball. The Swede was not fully at the races and it is understandable after suffering with his back in the build-up to the game. Nevertheless, he still worked Danijel Subasic on a number of occasions.
After the interval, the tempo of the game was a whole lot slower. The surprising thing from ASM is that they brought off Ocampos in place of Geoffrey Kondogbia. Yes, they had more muscle in the middle of the park but they lost some spark with Ocampos off the pitch. I am sure Claudio Ranieri had his reasons.
We were comfortable. Looked as if we would see the game through but a cross from the inside right by full-back Fabinho was sliced into the net by the captain to his dismay and Monaco’s delight. For me, Silva was the best player on the pitch. Despite his own goal, it did not deter just how good a shift he put in. Even mistakes like this happen to the best in the world.
It could have gone either way in the end and Ibra was denied in the dying embers by a world class Subasic save. Just before that Fabinho could have won it for the home side but was denied by Sirigu’s palms.
Thankfully, we came away from this with a result. We still have that healthy gap at the top and showed positive signs during the 90 minutes, especially a resilience to repel an onslaught from Les Rouge Et Blanc after they went a goal behind.
The game itself was a terrific advert for the football in France. It was a thoroughly entertaining duel by the country’s top two.