Sunday, 5 February 2012

PSG 3-1 Evian TG: Ancelotti's unbeaten start continues

Lazy journalism is a cry that often goes up when folk in the media get things wrong.

In my experience, errors are usually born more out of over-workedness than laziness, but there’s no excuse for a lack of basic fact-checking.

For example, the commentator in last night’s PSG v Evian match repeatedly referred to Diego Lugano as “the Italian defender”, despite the lovely Lugano being captain of Uruguay and one of his country’s most high-profile players. Everyone makes mistakes but a little bit of rudimentary research would be nice.

At least the commentator managed to get the scorers of PSG’s three goals right, as Nene and Co secured a third successive Ligue 1 victory of 2012 to stay clear of Montpellier (who also won again) at the top of the table.

“Naturally, I think that we must play better, with more order, more confidence, and more rigour because we allowed Evian to get the ball forward too easily,” said the Mister afterwards. “But even when you don't play well you must win. We created more good chances in the second half.”

PSG created plenty of chances in the first half too, but as per normal were a bit suspect at the back. Thiago Motta looked as though he was playing with a cigar on as he strolled around the pitch in what was an impressive debut. The Italian’s reading of the game was excellent as he broke up a number of Evian attacks, and going forward he rarely wasted a pass.

Jeremy Menez also started the game in decent fashion, but faded after an astonishing miss in the 34th minute, when he took the ball round the keeper but rattled the post with the goal gaping.

By then Kevin Gameiro had also shot narrowly wide twice, while Nene and Maxwell had shots blocked, and it seemed only a matter of time before les Rouges-et-Bleu opened the scoring.

Alas they switched off as the half drew to a close, and it took a fantastic tackle from Sakho to deny Yannick Sagbo a shooting opportunity as the striker got clear down the right channel.

It was only a temporary reprieve though, as on the stroke of half-time Cedric Cambon was on hand to divert Olivier Sorlin’s shot past Sirigu from close-range. Perhaps the defence was distracted by Evian's awful, awful, kit, which makes their players look like human bottles of pink mineral water.

PSG appeared to have been rattled by a harsh yellow card for Motta moments before the opening goal, but crucially they were able to conjure an equaliser two minutes after the restart.

Menez played the ball through to the outstanding Nene, who shuffled away from a defender and round the goalkeeper in trademark fashion before poking a shot towards goal which just about crossed the line despite keeper Andersen’s best efforts.

Anyone who expected PSG to go on and dominate for the rest of the match was in for a shock, as Evian pushed forward for a winner. Fortunately for us their best chance fell to the hopeless Sidney Gouvou, who got clear on goal but rammed his shot straight at the body of the advancing Sirigu, who blocked.

With 12 minutes left Ancelotti introduced Guillaume Hoarau for Bodmer and went 4-4-2, and saw his team in front barely a minute later. Menez’s advance into the box was halted illegally by defender Rippert, and that man Nene stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way.

It was left to Super Kev to seal the points in the 89th minute as he netted a welcome goal, his first in the Ligue of 2012. Substitute Blaise Matuidi did brilliantly to intercept the ball 35 yards out and feed Nene, and though his angled shot was saved Gameiro did what he does best and snaffled the rebound from six yards.

All in all a satisfactory result. With the way the game panned out 3-1 is a flattering scoreline, but the PSG created more chances than their opponents and were worthy winners. A more clinical approach in front of goal is needed, and Ancelotti will no doubt be concerned about how open we were on the counter.

But Motta looks a good signing, and I was impressed by the width Maxwell gave us down the left, particularly in the first half. Though still far from the finished article, PSG has the feeling to me of a team moving in the right direction, something you couldn’t always have said earlier in the season.

Man of the Match: Nene – involved in all his team’s best work, and grabbed two goals to take his tally for the season to 11.


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