FC Lorient 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Javier Pastore
It really was a tales of two halves on Lorient’s artificial pitch yesterday afternoon for Paris Saint-Germain. Awful in the first. Great character in the second.
The champions came from a goal down to score two goals after the interval to pick up a vital victory that puts us within just a point of Marseille who play later on. Edinson Cavani got the equaliser which is now his third goal in three games. It is not a bad return for a player who has been under intense scrutiny this season and to be fair to him, he was not heavily involved yesterday but was there when it mattered. Then two substitutes combined for the all-important winner. Marco Verratti played a delightful ball for Jean-Christophe Bahebeck who finished with aplomb after calmly rounding goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte. The goal was almost a carbon-copy of the one scored in Toulouse a number of weeks ago and full credit to Bahebeck after the disappointment last week of his starting role as striker being cut short following Gregory Van der Wiel’s dismissal.
Laurent Blanc made his usual shuffling of the pack ahead of next week’s Champions League encounter with APOEL. The biggest changes were in midfield. Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi were rested so in came Yohan Cabaye and Javier Pastore who was ushered into the midfield trio with Thiago Motta sitting as he always does in front of the back-four. Pastore’s deeper role allowed Ezequiel Lavezzi to start his first game since the end of September. But, not having Matuidi’s legs and Verratti’s calming influence on the ball was greatly missed. Cabaye was having a poor first-half. He lost the ball cheaply on a number of occasions and was ever so lucky that one of his mistakes was not punished by Jordan Ayew who came up short on his one on one with Salvatore Sirigu. This kind of set a precedent as it happened so early on in the match. Lorient took encouragement from that, they were by far the better side. We conjured up just one shot on goal in that first 45 minutes, they had five. For a team in the bottom three they played some good stuff and fully deserved their lead just before the break via Raphael Guerreiro. It was a lovely worked goal. Valentin Lavigne spread the ball into the path of Ayew who waited for Guerreiro to overlap and teed up the Portuguese to finish superbly.
In the second-half, we started much better as Pastore set the tone with a decent strike on goal. JP was man of the match for me. He had the biggest impact, involved in the goals, his general play again just ticking us over. His involvement for the equaliser along with Thiago Motta was huge. The Argentine played a gorgeous lofted ball into Thiago Motta who ushered into the penalty area to square for Cavani who bundled the ball home despite Lecomte’s best efforts.
Eight minutes later, Bahebeck got the all-important second and from then we held on for victory. Blanc must be credited for introducing him and Verratti at just the right time to tip the balance well and truly in our favour.
Blanc was very honest in his post-match assessment. He admitted that against a team of better quality, PSG would most probably have lost judging on the first-half display; “The victory was very difficult to achieve tonight. Our first half was very poor, with far too many mistakes, both individually and as a team. The Lorient players were far more motivated during this period. After the break, we played our real football and we showed our determination. It was enough to get the victory tonight, but in another match, against another opponent, we could have lost this match”.