Monday, 19 September 2011

Evian 2-2 PSG: Parisiens show they're not Bodd-lers

How many pictures of non-alcoholic beverages can one blog feature you may ask? Well, unless we draw little-known Cypriot side Dr Pepper United in the latter stages of the Europa League, then this will be the last one for a while so make the most of it.

PSG continued stretched their unbeaten run to seven games yesterday with a come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Evian in Annecy.

It was a match which probably summed up the season so far for Antoine Kombouare’s men, occasionally brilliant going forward, permanently dodgy at the back. AK chose his umpteenth centre-back pairing of the season for the match, selecting fit-again Sylvain Armand alongside Diego Lugano, and one suspects that until we get some continuity in this position defensive uncertainty is going to be an ongoing problem.

Poor old Armand didn’t enjoy a great first start of the season, and it was his leg that deflected Yannick Sagbo’s pass into the path of Jerome Leroy, a man for whom the term evergreen could have been coined. The 37-year-old ex-Parisien finished with aplomb to give the newly promoted side a shock lead.

It got worse six minutes later, as Armand made a hash of clearing a ball into the box, and clumsily fouled Mohammed Rabui as he tried to recover. Stick-on pen, and Sagbo did the honours from the spot to make it 2-0.

At this point PSG had offered little in attack, but they slowly came to life with Javier Pastore and Kevin Gameiro providing much of the impetus, ably supported by Nene. Gameiro, though, seemed to have left his shooting boots in the dressing room, passing up two chances he would usually put away in his sleep. The first came when home defender Tie Bi’s awful backpass left him all alone in front of goal, but the former Lorient striker’s effort was too close to goalkeeper Stephan Andersen, who blocked.

Then in the second period a fine pass from Pastore put Gameiro in on goal, but rather than trying a shot himself he went to return the ball to the Argentinean, only for a covering defender to put it behind for a corner.

By then Pastore had dragged his side back into the match with a superb solo effort on the stroke of half-time. Picking the ball up outside the box, he surged between three defenders, and held off a fourth before drilling a low shot into the far corner.

Evian remained dangerous on the break, and Sagbo could have put them out of sight when he ran onto Leroy’s fine through-ball but fired over the bar.

And it was left to two substitutes to earn PSG a point, as Mevlut Erding flicked on an 80th minute corner and Matthieu Bodmer surged in to shin the ball home from close-range.

A draw was probably a fair result, and it was good to see the PSG show a bit of fight to recover from what looked a fairly hopeless position after the first 20 minutes. But there are still plenty of problems for AK and his coaches to deal with: Despite not being the most prolific of scorers (six goals in six Ligue 1 games this season) Evian carved out chance after chance in the match, and better teams will punish us if we give them so many opportunities.

There is still work to do in attack too – the front six were a bit stretched out for my liking, and though Menez had a few nice touches he for the most part cut a peripheral figure on the wing.

Next up is a home match against Nice, who picked up their first win of the season on Saturday with a 3-0 tonking of Ajaccio. Let’s hope they’re not coming into form at just the wrong time.

Man of the Match: Javier Pastore – Pulled the strings with the poise of a master marionette operator.


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