UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Ajax 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: David Luiz / Marquinhos
Paris Saint-Germain were left to rue missed chances and their failure to capitalise on one of the most comfortable first-halves they will endure this season. Edinson Cavani’s first-half strike was cancelled out by a beautiful Lasse Schone freekick midway through the second-half. Les Parisiens though are still yet to win a game on the road in four which is a concern.
Barcelona picking up all three points against APOEL at the Camp Nou ups the ante for our meeting on match-day two. If we fail to get a result there then that will deliver a severe underwhelming feeling. With all due respect to APOEL, we have two back to back games against them after the Catalans where we must rack up maximum points. Still, a point away from home is decent in Europe. However, when you consider how dominant we were in the first 45 minutes, it leaves a bitter taste.
Once again, Laurent Blanc set us up in a 4-3-3, Lucas Moura and Edinson Cavani operating the wide areas with of course Zlatan Ibrahimovic up top. As I thought before the game, Blaise Matuidi was brought in for Javier Pastore to give us legs in midfield which worked to a tee in that first-half. We were excellent, controlling the game with ease, sharp incisive passing. The defence was very impressive, particularly Marquinhos. David Luiz who missed last weekend came back and was resolute. And Salvatore Sirigu did not have one save to make until the 73rd minute.
Cavani took his goal well. Lucas Moura made something out of nothing by dispossessing Nicolai Boilesen, pulled it back for Ibra whose shot was blocked but thankfully ‘El Matador’ was there to smash home the rebound.
Ajax coach Frank de Boer made a change at the interval, Niki Zimling on for Nick Viergever which made such a difference. The hosts had more fluidity, began to press further up the pitch. But things could have been so different had Lucas Moura put a golden chance away to double the lead within the opening moments of the second-half. It is the kind of chance squandered that epitomises the frustration with him at times. He had to at least hit the target and at this level you are punished if you don’t take those kind of opportunities.
That was indeed the case. Marquinhos who had been excellent for ¾’s of the game, conceded a foul on the edge of the box which Schone dispatched with aplomb. Sirigu could have perhaps done better having got a hand to it.
Nevertheless, he made a good save from Schone again not too long after that by tipping a 30-yard freekick onto the post which Marquinhos eventually cleared. The Dutch champions came within a whisker from claiming all three points.
Towards the end our defence was all over the place. It was amazing to think that these were the same teams from the opening 45 minutes. Without exaggerating, PSG could have lost this game quite easily and have no one to blame but themselves.
We have another big game on Sunday now against Olympique Lyonnais where the title defence takes centre of attention. Barca can wait for now but the ante has been upped after their victory and our failure to do so. If anyone thought this was a two horse race, think again. Ajax are not here to make up the numbers.