Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Olympique Lyonnais
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Lucas Digne
Paris Saint-Germain kicked off a heavy schedule against Olympique Lyonnais with yet another 1-1 draw – the third on the trot! Five games in 14 days will need to be well managed by coach Laurent Blanc and he made five changes to the side that drew in Amsterdam last Wednesday. Although the performance was better overall than the last two outings we still didn’t manage to get the job done. Boos rang around the Parc at full-time which may seem harsh but the Parisien public can see a team not playing to its full potential.
As I alluded to, with Caen coming up on Wednesday before a trip to Toulouse at the weekend, Blanc decided to fresh things up. Notably he overhauled the full-back areas as Serge Aurier and Lucas Digne entered the fray. Yohan Cabaye came in for Thiago Motta and Ezequiel Lavezzi was given his chance to prove his worth ahead of Lucas Moura.
The first-half we were in utter control. Just like in Amsterdam we dominated the possession, the defence was solid and Les Gones were restricted to less than a handful of openings.
Digne for me was our best player and it was the former Lille man who put the ball on a plate for Edinson Cavani to head us into the lead in the 20th minute. The full-back swerved the ball beautifully into the box which OL defender Samuel Umtiti got under and the lurking ‘Matador’ was there to dive in and head past Anthony Lopes. It was a terrific goal.
Not too much changed after that but the visitors came within a whisker of equalising. Aurier had brought down Alexandre Lacazette on the edge of the box which earned him a yellow card. Arnold Mvuemba took it but rattled the crossbar which had Salvatore Sirigu beaten. Steed Malbranque tried to put the follow up away but the Italian was there to gather.
After the interval we very nearly doubled the lead. Blaise Matuidi with a consecutive start after being ousted out by Javier Pastore had a delicious attempt on the volley that just sailed wide of Lopes’ goal. The cross by Marco Verratti to pick him out was just as impressive.
Lopes in the Lyon goal produced some stunning saves to keep his team in the contest. One which bordered world class to prevent Umtiti’s header going into his own net and resulting in an own goal. Then he got down to save a rare Thiago Motta shot who had come on for Cabaye and then got up to deny Ibra tapping in the rebound. That ultimately was a game changer as PSG hardly had an effort on goal after that.
Blanc made his customary like for like changes which I have stressed in recent weeks that they ‘do not work’. Lavezzi, Cabaye and Cavani were all brought off. Cavani coming off was a surprise. The Uruguayan had a good game in truth and there certainly was no need to take him off.
Soon after that, Lyon equalised. It may have been fortunate but you make your own luck and that is exactly what Umtiti did. The PSG defence failed to scramble away the danger, the ball fell to the 20-year-old and his shot deflected in off Aurier’s chest. Sirigu was rooted to the spot. Just minutes before that, SS made a world class save to deny Clinton N’Jie netting an absolute beauty from outside the box.
Hubert Fournier’s men should have taken all three points. Aurier was dispossessed in his own area, the ball was then played to an unmarked Corentin Tolisso at the back post but he fired way over the bar. Had he been composed, the seven-time Ligue 1 winners would have taken the spoils.
Thiago Motta had a goal disallowed and was booked for his protests. Lucas clearly blocked goalkeeper Lopes intentionally in the build-up to it. And that is how it stayed, 1-1.
The boos rang around the ground to emphasise the disappointment at the moment. It is yet another draw. On top of that we could have even lost the game, just as we nearly did against Ajax. The schedule coming up is tough and we have FC Barcelona coming to town in just over a week. Laurent Blanc has some serious thinking to do but his first port of call is to get us winning again. An away trip to Caen is next and if we don’t get a win there, the pressure will be heaped further on the coach. You have to consider, over 80% of the PSG supporters said in a poll with Le Parisien that they are unhappy with the team’s start to the season.
Much credit has to be given Lyon’s resolve, they were worthy of their point. But the grim reading for a PSG supporter is seeing Marseille sitting at the top of the table and playing well.