Paris Saint-Germain registered a seventh straight win in the classique and potentially, the biggest one yet out of that sequence! The champions came from behind twice before taking the lead thanks to a Jeremy Morel own-goal which turned out to be the winner. The performance from the lads in the second-half was magnificent and we could have won by more goals had it not been for Steve Mandanda.
In a rapturous Stade Velodrome, coach Laurent Blanc made no surprises to his selection. Marquinhos was in at right-back in place of Gregory Van der Wiel, and despite returning to training on Friday, Javier Pastore started. Blanc had little choice with Lucas Moura not yet fit enough to make the squad.
It was a fairly even start as both sides felt each other out. There were penalty appeals early on for both and Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a strong case for one as Morel clumsily bundled the big man over. Certainly seen them given for less.
Pastore had our first opportunity on goal as Marco Verratti had the vision to pick a pass which got the Argentine in behind the defence but dragged his effort wide. Little Marco was pivotal all game as he has been since the turn of the year. There were instances where his breakup play was just as impressive as his passing. It was a superb display from the Italian once again.
We were pretty much in control for the opening half hour, knocking the ball round nicely as OM opted to sit back. They were patient, bided their time and capitalised by opening the scoring. Andre-Pierre Gignac got above Marquinhos at the back-post to head home a Dimitri Payet cross which was delivered with execution.
Things got from bad to worse for us as David Luiz had to come off with an apparent hamstring injury which will more or less rule him out for the next few weeks. Van der Wiel came on in his place as Marquinhos came in at centre-back alongside Thiago Silva.
Just as it looked as if it may be one of those nights, Blaise Matuidi pops up with a stunner of a goal with his weaker right foot to make it 1-1. Despite Mandanda’s best efforts he was unable to tip the ball away from goal but instead it cracked in off the post to PSG’s delirium. Blaise was man of the match for us! He ran his socks off.
Eight minutes later, the hosts were back in front. Some sloppy play saw Pastore dispossessed in midfield by Alaixys Romao and Gignac was able to bore in on goal to subsequently finish with pure ease. That sent the Velodrome into elation as the half-time whistle brought to a close an eventful first-half.
Yet again, Blanc’s men had to do things the hard way. But their response in the second-half was nothing short of inspiring. We got a major slice of luck with the equaliser. Zlatan slipped whilst taking a freekick and the ball fell kindly to Marquinhos who finished emphatically. 2-2!
Two minutes later, the comeback was complete. Pastore who was himself again after an indifferent first 45 minutes played the ball into the box where Ibra looked to have bagged his 100th goal for the club but replays showed it was a Morel OG. Nevertheless, PSG were into the lead! The response could not have been any better!
From then on in, we could have wrapped things up. Pastore, Ibra and Lavezzi all had chances to make it more conclusive but Mandanda in the Marseille goal was pivotal in keeping his team in the fight.
We had to play with 10-men in stoppage time as Thiago Motta picked up an injury which also looks certain to rule him out of this intense run-in we have over the next two weeks. No doubt, the victory came at a price.
However, we are now back on top of the table. Marseille are five points behind and we have started this mammoth fixture list with a victory. It is a massive win, not only for the title race but also going into the Coupe de France semi-final in midweek against Saint-Etienne.
The domestic treble is alive and kicking!