FC Metz 2-3 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Javier Pastore
Paris Saint-Germain were coasting for 45 minutes before shooting themselves in the foot, not once, but twice against FC Metz last night. Luckily for Laurent Blanc he could count on Ezequiel Lavezzi netting the winner with seven minutes remaining of the 90.
The coach who celebrated his birthday this week made his customary pre-Champions League changes, although his hand had been forced somewhat. David Luiz’s absence meant Marquinhos partnered the skipper Thiago Silva in the centre of defence. Yohan Cabaye only lasted 20 minutes before coming off with an injury for Clement Chantome. Adrien Rabiot started in the midfield trio as I expected (his first start of the season) and did well in the first-half. He did end up conceding a penalty but it must be noted that this was his first competitive start of the season. The Frenchman even had a goal disallowed for offside but the finish was emphatic. Edinson Cavani’s travels to South America proved too much so he started on the bench. But the big man Zlatan Ibrahimovic started his first game in a Parisian shirt for two months but unfortunately was unable to have a telling influence.
The atmosphere at the Stade Saint-Symphorien was electric and even when we took the lead in the 9th minute the home support still did not simmer. Javier Pastore opened the scoring and his tally for the season. Without doubt our player so far, the Argentine finally got his first goal of the campaign and it was all of his own making. His persistence to close players down resulted in the Metz defence making mistakes and he subsequently brushed off Julien Francois before diligently dinking the ball over Johan Carrasso. It was beautifully executed by ‘El Flaco’.
Six minutes later, we were 2-0 up. Lavezzi whipped in a delicious ball from a set-piece that eluded everyone except the thigh of Gaetan Bussman who turned it into his own net. Carrasso’s reaction said it all as he booted the foot of the post in anger. Credit to Lavezzi for the delivery and he was our best attacking outlet in the first period.
We were controlling the game. The hosts had their moments, particularly a lovely effort from Florent Malouda that had Salvatore Sirigu scrambling but we could never have foreseen what was to happen after the break.
Thiago Motta was brought off at half-time for Blaise Matuidi. The Azzurri international had no injury it seemed so it appeared Blanc wanted to give BM some game time after missing the international break with a fractured hand. That one change was pivotal in terms of the lack of presence we had in midfield. Clement Chantome who came on for Cabaye has had depleted playing time, as has Rabiot and Matuidi was just coming back from an injury. It was a blunder by Blanc who perhaps thought the match was won.
Rabiot conceded the first penalty. It looked harsh, despite clipping Sergey Krivets from behind. There was the slightest contact but was there enough to warrant a spot kick? Up stepped Modibo Maiga to send Sirigu the wrong way.
Three minutes later, a blatant handball by Gregory Van der Wiel resulted in the award of the second. There were no complaints from the Dutchman. Maiga put the ball on the spot and netted his brace!
From then on it was anybody’s game. Maiga could have had a hat-trick but his header was denied by a smart stop from Sirigu.
In the last 20 minutes though you could see FCM tiring. We were posing more of a threat, especially via Pastore who was fantastic. Everything was coming through him. He played a part in the winner by setting up Lavezzi for a shot on goal that was saved by Carrasso who then followed that up by denying Ibra on the rebound but was helpless as the ball trickled away towards goal and Lavezzi carried on running to prod home.
PSG held on for victory which puts us top of the table with a two point lead over Marseille. Marcelo Bielsa’s men play fourth-placed Bordeaux on Sunday.
It is seven straight wins on the bounce for us. The form is exemplary and that will stand us in good stead for the encounter with Ajax in the Champions League next week. If we can make it eight wins on the trot, then we can go to the Camp Nou against Barcelona in pole position for that top spot in Group F.