Paris Saint-Germain have gone top off Ligue 1 at long last! Well, that is what should have happened this afternoon but the Parc des Princes was left in a state of shock as Caen scored two late goals to salvage a 2-2 draw. Our misery is compounded by the fact that we picked up four injuries! And possibly two more according to Canal+ with Blaise Matuidi and Maxwell.
Les Parisiens had to end up playing with nine-men for the final ten minutes having made all three substitutions. Yohan Cabaye who was arguably our best player in the early going was the first to come off. Then Serge Aurier who perhaps had his best game in a Parisian shirt went down in a heap in bizarre fashion. But, most worryingly, Lucas Moura made way in tears in the 80th minute which puts his participation against Chelsea in serious jeopardy.
What should have been a pleasant afternoon for Laurent Blanc’s men, turned out to be a harrowing one. We will now have to assess the damage and see what the repercussions will be for the game on Tuesday night. It is rotten luck and Blanc – who was in buoyant mood for having pretty much a fully fit squad – will need to put his thinking cap on as to how to set up against Jose Mourinho’s side.
The coach made eight changes from the victory over Nantes and we got off to the best possible start via Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Cabaye played a splendid cross-field pass for Aurier who matched it with a delicious ball that was met first time on the volley by Ibra. It was a beautiful goal all round and Ibra was quick to show off his new tattoos with his celebration which resulted in him picking up a yellow card for taking his shirt off.
We made it 2-0 via Ezequiel Lavezzi who finished emphatically past Remy Vercoutre. Lucas dummied the ball for Ibra who gave it him back and the Brazilian played a delightful pass into the path of the Argentine who finished superbly.
After the interval, with Cabaye already being replaced by Adrien Rabiot, we had to make another change. Marquinhos picked up a thigh injury and was replaced by David Luiz.
Much like the game in midweek against Nantes, we were coasting. No danger whatsoever of us letting the two goal lead slip. But, things got a little edgy when Aurier crumbled in a heap and was stretchered off. Having brought on Gregory Van der Wiel minutes prior, we had to play the remaining 20 minutes with 10-men. This was a blow, but you did not think for one second it would end up costing us.
However, 10 minutes later Lucas trudged off the pitch in tears with an injury he picked up which means his involvement against Chelsea looks minimal. It meant we had to play the remainder of the game with nine-men.
From doing very little for 80 odd minutes, the away side piled on the pressure as we fell deeper and deeper. Then in the 89th minute they pulled a goal back via Emiliano Sala. That just spurred them on and they got a break when Zlatan committed a foul on the edge of the box and substitute Herve Bazile produced a stunning freekick to silence the Parc. You could hear a pin drop! The SMC bench went into absolute raptures as Blanc looked on in disbelief.
It is hard to explain what transpired in those last 20 minutes. Blanc will come under criticism for this but how can he? Did he make a pointless substitution in bringing Van der Wiel on with a quarter of the game remaining which left us with no more changes to make? Again, how could anyone foresee the two injuries that were to occur.
It is a major disappointing day for the club. We were minutes away from going top but instead find ourselves in third place. Now we are left to pick up the pieces against a Chelsea team that has had a free weekend to prepare.
Mourinho must be enjoying a glass or two of red tonight.