It was a huge relief last night and a massive result for Paris Saint-Germain. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s second-half penalty was enough to ensure a 1-0 victory away to Saint-Etienne which draws us level on points with Marseille and back to within four points of leaders Lyon.
The penalty was dubious it must be said. Jeremy Clement was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box but replays showed that it in fact hit his shoulder. It was one of those that could have gone either way but luckily we got the rub of the green. Zlatan stepped up and although Stephane Ruffier guessed the right way, he couldn’t get a hand to it.
Coach Laurent Blanc made a couple of changes – ones to be expected. David Luiz came back into the fold to partner Thiago Silva at centre-back. Marquinhos started at right-back again and Maxwell completed the all Brazilian back-four. Marquinhos was excellent as always, he really was. He is proving to be just as good a right-back as he is in the centre. His reading of the game is absolutely spot on and he made a couple of key interventions last night. One in particular bailed Luiz out who sliced a clearance with the ball dropping to Yohan Mollo. Thankfully, the young man was there to block.
The skipper Silva had another solid game. He is showing signs of getting back to his best which is fantastic.
Thiago Motta as expected came back in for Yohan Cabaye. Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti completed the midfield trio. Javier Pastore was dropped to the bench in order for Edinson Cavani to move back out to the left which allowed Ibra to play up top. Lucas Moura of course was on the opposite side.
In the first-half, we dominated possession. We did not create any clear cut chances but it was surprising at just how comfortable we were. Salvatore Sirigu was a mere spectator for much of the half and the game as a whole in truth.
After the interval Ibra was involved in the best passage of play from Les Parisiens. Little Marco Verratti played a diligent through ball for the Swede but was denied by the legs of Ruffier. Moments later, his converted spot-kick allowed us to take the lead. Just as he did against Les Verts over a week and half back in the cup, it was his goal that proved to be decisive.
Cavani was desperately unlucky not to make it 2-0 with a beautiful dinked effort over Ruffier’s head but caught the top of the cross bar.
It did not prove to be decisive as the champions held on for victory. It is now four straight wins and this is definitely up there. It puts some leeway between ourselves and Saint-Etienne. Level on points with OM. And we know that if we beat Rennes on Friday, we can head to Lyon a week later with every chance of cutting their lead.
This is a big few weeks coming up for the football club and we have hit form just at the right time!