UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
APOEL FC 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: David Luiz
Edinson Cavani was the hero with a last gasp winner in Cyprus last night in what was a beyond average performance by Paris Saint-Germain. The Uruguayan’s goal in the 87th minute looked improbable as PSG struggled to break down APOEL in the final third for the vast majority of the game.
It would have been a case of ‘what might have been?’ had we not won. I said beforehand that this was a real opportunity to rack up six points in these next few weeks to put ourselves in firm control for qualification. Three points now in the bag and APOEL to come to the Parc in two weeks’ time for the return. With our home form, you fancy us to get the win. Also, FC Barcelona beating Ajax last night has put the Dutch five points behind us and the Catalans remain a point behind. If FCB can avoid defeat in Amsterdam then we are almost certain of booking a place into the last-16.
All in all, everything worked out. But the performance was ever so poor. Yes, we absolutely dominated possession but we did nothing with it. We were laboured, predictable. No runs were being made behind the defence. Lucas Moura was not getting on the ball to utilise his pace. Javier Pastore had a poor night with too many of his passes going astray. Thiago Motta – for someone who is usually so dependable – was sloppy with his play. Nothing really clicked at all in an attacking sense.
Defensively, some real positives. Thiago Silva started the game and completed the 90 minutes. He did not have to exert himself too much but that will have done him the world of good. His first 90 minutes since August after 11 games out. David Luiz, who for me was man of the match, also returned from injury and played the entirety of the game. He made an almighty contribution by heading Tiago Gomes’ header off the line which would have given the Cypriot side the lead midway through the second-half. Had that gone in, the story may have been different?
The headlines belong to Cavani though. He proved to be the match winner we know he can be. An invaluable goal too. He made something out of nothing, battling for the ball in the penalty area and swivelling his body to get a shot away to beat goalkeeper Urko Pardo. There was no sniper celebration this time around. Instead he cleverly pointed towards the ground which was a cheeky gesture but in good spirits after the kerfuffle last Friday.
It was a difficult night for Les Parisiens. We needed to win, as I said the opportunity to take a firm hold of the group following our exploits against Barca in matchday-two was imperative. We have done that so focus now turns to Bordeaux this weekend. Second against third, just before leaders Marseille take on Olympique Lyonnais in what is going to be a great couple of days in France.