Friday, 30 March 2012

Holiday time

Yes Carlo, I'm away for ten whole days
Just a short post to say that I'm going away on holiday for the next ten days or so, so don't expect any insightful, informative, thought-provoking on this blog until after the Easter weekend. In fact, probably best not to ever expect any insightful, informative, or thought provoking stuff here, then at least you won't be disappointed, ahem.

I'm off to France to check first-hand that all is good in the PSG hood, cheerio folks.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Rumour Mill: PSG linked with cast-offs from Arsenal, Liverpool, and Real Madrid

Flourishing you say?
Generally I find the Daily Mail highly offensive. I'm aware that this is an experience almost as universal as knowing what wearing a t-shirt feels like, but still: it's true.*

They outdid themselves this week by linking Paris St-Germain with a move for Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole. Sod the scare-mongering, racial hatred, and the continuing presence of Liz Jones, this is without doubt the worst thing Paul Dacre's rag has ever printed. 

Fortunately the story is, as usual with the Mail, light on substance and big on generalisations. You may vaguely remember that Cole is on loan at our Ligue 1 rivals Joe Cole's Lille. I say vaguely because he hasn't done much in recent months, losing his place in the starting line-up and making little impact when he's come off the bench.

"He [Cole] has flourished in French football and Ancelotti's wants to make him part of one of the grand project at Paris St Germain," claims the Mail story, which seems to be based entirely on the fact that Cole worked with Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea. Still, if any part of it is true I will cry big, real, tears.

The fee for Cole would allegedly be £5million, £1million less than the Daily Mirror says we're prepared to play to bring Marouane Chamakh back to France. The Arsenal "flop" is apparently going to be part of a Gunners summer clear-out, but is also on the wanted list of former club Bordeaux and Italian side Fiorentina. Chamakh has apparently said in the past that the only French club he would consider playing for are Bordeaux. But if his head was turned by the cash challenge of playing for PSG, I wouldn't be too gutted to have him around, though you would think we could, and will, do better.  

Finally for now, the Spanish press are reporting that we're keen on Real Madrid's centre-back Raul Albiol, who has slipped down the pecking order at the Bernebau, with the likes of French youngster Rafeal Varane now ahead of him in Jose Mourinho's thinking. Albiol would appear to be an ideal purchase - he was part of the Spain squad that won Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010, and is still relatively young for a centre-back at 26. But then I thought Lugano seemed an ideal purchase, and look what happened there.

*Thanks to the excellent Charlie Brooker for this line, it's a good one.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

PSG 1-1 Bordeaux: Not on song

Paris St Germain once again relinquished the leadership of Ligue 1 this weekend, only managing a 1-1 draw at home to Bordeaux on Sunday.

With Montpellier having scraped a 1-0 win over St Etienne the previous day, the advantage is once again with Rene Girard's charges.

I watched the first half of the Bordeaux game and the less said about it the better. Apparently it perked up after the break, but during the bit I saw PSG were struggling to break down a resolute but unambitious Bordeaux outfit.

After half-time Les Girondins took the lead. The Parisien back-line was less a line, more a zig-zag as Nicolas Maurice-Belay ran on to Obraniak's through ball before squaring for Chieck Diabete to slot home.

But as ever PSG didn't lack fight, and were level almost immediately. A clever ball from substitute Matthieu Bodmer freed Hoarau, who smashed the ball home from just inside the box. Bodmer has been out for a while due to injury, and hopefully he will reclaim his place in the side because when on form I feel he gives us something a bit different in the middle of the park.

All this on-pitch stuff is eclipsed by the amazing news that the PSG squad have recorded a song. The players and Carlo Ancelotti were in the studio last week singing the club anthem Allez Paris St Germain. If you don't know said anthem, penned in the 1970s by the imaginatively named group Les Parisiens, it's to the tune of Go West and features such inspired lyrics as "Go Paris St Germain! Play Paris St Germain".

The video, above, is one of the best things I have seen on the internet for some time, and begs the question which of our players would make good pop stars? I reckon Gamiero has the clean cut good looks and baby-face to be the new Justin Bieber (sorry Kev), Jezza Menezza could be Lady Gaga (unnecessarily flamboyant, stupid hair) while Carlo Ancelotti would be brilliant standing in for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or any other 1960s crooner. If you have any other suggestions let me know.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

PSG 1-3 Olympique Lyonnais - Magical Lloris thwarts Parisiens

Via this week’s Football Ramble, I’ve discovered that Wayne Rooney wants to become a stand-up comedian.

Initially I thought this might in itself be an April Fool’s joke being played a week early, a little bit of googling reveals the full story.

“Wayne's a regular at comedy nights in Liverpool and Manchester,” a source told the, ahem, Daily Star.

“He's always been a funny guy and has said before he'd love to be a comedian. We've all been going on at him so he's vowed to us and the rest of his friends that he will get up on stage next time he's out.”

The mind boggles as to what sort of routine Rooney would put together, though given the sophisticated nature of footballer humour it would probably involve throwing a bucket of water over the head of unsuspecting audience members, or letting the tyres down on people's cars while they’re in the auditorium. Keep an eye out for him popping up on the bill at Jongleurs.

I’m not sure whether Hugo Lloris has ever considered a career as a comic, but he could certainly did a good impression of a magician last night as he inspired his Lyon team to a Coupe de France victory over Paris St Germain.

At times in the second half it seemed as though Lloris was battling PSG single-handedly, as he made a string of saves to deny Christophe Jallet, Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez, and in the end his side held on and wrapped up the victory in stoppage time thanks to Bafe Gomis’s penalty.

Earlier PSG had gone in front thanks to a very generous penalty award. Samuel Umtiti appeared to be trying to get out of the way of a shot on goal, but the ball hit him on the arm and the referee pointed to the spot. Nene did what he does best, and dinked the ball past Lloris, who dived the wrong way.

Unfortunately Lyon were on level terms almost immediately thanks to a set-piece of their own, Kim Kallstrom delivering a delicious free-kick which curled into the top corner beyond the reach of Nicolas Douchez.

After that little flurry of activity, PSG went to carve out several good chances in the first half. Unfortunately they all fell to Kevin Gameiro, who appeared to have left his shooting boots at home, directing a couple of efforts at Lloris and skying another over the cross-bar.

And just before half-time we were made to pay when Kallstrom flighted in a cross and, as Jallet and Alex dallied, Lisandro Lopez dashed in to score from a narrow angle. Poor defending, but a good finish from the striker, who wasn’t so composed in the second half when he missed an open goal after good work from Gomis.

It mattered not though as the late penalty sealed Lyon’s progress, and condemned Carlo Ancelotti to a first defeat as Les Rouge-et-Bleu boss. It was a disappointing result, especially given the teams that remain in the competition, but a decent performance nevertheless. The challenge now is to get back on the Ligue 1 horse when Bordeaux come to town on Sunday night.

Man of the Match: Jeremy Menez - at his bright and inventive best.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Caen 2-2 PSG:

Jallet: PSG's latest last-minute man
 As procrastinators across the world will tell you, doing stuff at the last minute is no bad thing.

A looming deadline tends to focus the mind, hence why my productivity is pretty low at present but will (hopefully) increase later in the week.

In footballing terms, Paris St Germain are certainly Ligue 1’s greatest procrastinators. Christophe Jallet’s late equaliser at Caen on Saturday night meant PSG have scored in the last five minutes of each of their last five games.

Over the course of the season we have gained an impressive 12 points thanks to goals in the last 15 minutes of matches, while "losing" just two points in the same period (Jonathan Petroipa's late equaliser for Rennes back in August). Without said points we’d be fourth, looking enviously up the table at Montpellier and co, and credit for this remarkable set of statistics should be given to both this season's managers. We're obviously a very fit side, which must at least in part be down to Antoine Kombouare's pre-season training regime, while Carlo Ancelotti seems to have installed a never-say-die attitude in the squad which will be invaluable during the run-in.

On Saturday our lead over Rene Girard’s MHSC team increased by a point after they were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at Nancy. This is obviously good news on the surface, but given Caen’s lowly status one could also look at it as an opportunity missed to give ourselves a four-point cushion. I guess it depends whether your glass is half full or half empty.

After an unimpressive first half, in which Caen twice went close to going in front, Pierre-Alain Frau gave the home side the lead, following up to score after Sirigu had blocked his initial shot.

Javier Pastore equalised a moment later with what was possibly the luckiest goal of his career. El Flaco saw a defender’s attempted clearance ricochet off his shin and find the corner of the net to make it all square.

The PSG defence then gave the opposition their regulation goal from a set-piece. You know how it goes, corner/free kick, no marking to speak of, free header, boom. This time Thomas Heurtaux was the lucky recipient, and it looked as though his would be the decisive impact until Jallet volleyed home in stoppage time.

Ancelotti’s glass is definitely half-full. He said: “Caen played really well and scored from some of their chances. But we showed the character to score in the closing minutes.

“It's a good day because our gap over Montpellier has increased by a point.”

PSG are back in action on Wednesday night, when Lyon come to the Parc-des-Princes for a Coupe de France quarter-final show-down.

Friday, 16 March 2012

If anyone can Carlo can as PSG head to, er, Caen

Paris St Germain head for Caen this weekend with the squad looking a bit stretched.

Fans of other Ligue 1 teams are probably snorting into their pastis at the notion that the most expensively assembled squad in the league's history having selection problems, but Carlo Ancelotti's options are somewhat limited.

Nene and Momo Sissoko are suspended (Sissoko will serve a two-game ban for his indescretion last week), while Clement Chantome has joined Bodmer and Maxwell on the injured list. Carletto has hinted a switch to 4-4-2 could be on the cards, with a recall for Super Kev after his last minute heroics against Dijon, and a sojourn on the left-flank for Pastore. 

Meanwhile Ancelotti has been speaking about the possibility of  Inter striker Gianpaolo Pazzini joining PSG in the summer, which according to him is about as likely as the Tour Eiffel being torn down and turned into a block of flats.

"Pazzini? No!" said our leader, as if reprimanding a small dog. "We have Hoarau, and Guillaume has the same characteristics as Pazzini. He does a good job, I have complete confidence in him, we do not need a player with the same characteristics."

A nice pat on the head for big Guillaume there, who has indeed been pretty ace of late. The manager went by pledging to be sensible with the massive war-chest he will undoubtedly be handed in the summer.

"We will be more competitive [next season] but we do not need to change everything," he said. "The group has a good balance."

Indeed, it would be nice to think that after the glut of new arrivals last summer, this year we would see fewer comings and goings. If we make the Champions League we'll need to strengthen, but there's no need to go bidding a trillion squillion Euros for every half-decent Brazilian who becomes available. Hopefully Ancelotti will be able to stand up to the owners - and Leonardo - on the issue of recruitment.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Dijon 1-2 PSG: Gamiero strikes late to cheer up Sarkozy

Poor old Nicolas Sarkozy.

The French president was sat at the Stade de France yesterday afternoon looking thoroughly miserable as France slumped to defeat against England in the Six Nations. I feel his pain, I’d probably be a bit grumpy if I was forced to sit through 80 minutes of rugby.

Sarko, one of PSG’s most famous fans, was hopefully cheered by the news from Dijon, where Kevin Gameiro scored a last minute winner to keep the ten-man Parisiens top of the Ligue 1.

“We played well in the first half without scoring,” said Carlo Ancelotti afterwards.

“After Sissoko's sending-off, things obviously became more difficult. We changed the position of Javier Pastore and opted for a more defensive set-up. The team showed great mental strength and we deserved to win the match.”

Ancelotti has to take some credit for installing an admirable never-say-die quality in the team, something which you wouldn’t necessarily expect from such a new and expensively-assembled, squad. They bossed Dijon in the first half, and only a combination of poor finishing and good defending prevented them from going in at half-time in the lead.

A super double save from Baptiste Reynet thwarted Guillaume Hoarau and Javier Pastore, and the Dijon keeper also threw himself to his right to stop a good effort from Jezza Menezza. Menez went even closer with what would have been a goal-of-the-season contender, side-footing a volley just wide after Pastore’s clever cut-back. At the other end Salvatore Sirigu had little to do other than a diving save which foiled Benjamin Corgnet.

But the complexion of the match changed just before half-time, when Momo Sissoko went in for a tackle on Eric Bautheac and was dismissed by referee Philippe Malige.

As you can see from this picture (I’m very proud of my Print-Screening skills by the way), Momo’s foot was barely off the ground, and while one could make a case that he deserved a booking, a red card was harsh in the extreme.

Perhaps it was a case of Sissoko’s tough-tackling reputation going before him, or perhaps (more likely) the referee is simply incompetent. Either way it was a shame because up to that point the Mali international had been having one of his better games in a PSG shirt. Now he’ll be on the sidelines for (I think) three games.

Anyway, CA dropped Pastore into a deeper role alongside Matuidi, with Menez and Nene on the flanks supporting Hoarau. And the ten-men got the boost of an early goal in the second half, thanks to some comical defending from Chaher Zarour, who had only just come off the bench to replace Diabate. Zarour fell over as he was attempting to stop Hoarau going past him near the left-touchline, but fell over leaving Hoarau free to square the ball for Siaka Tiene to slot in his first for the club. Left-back Tiene was showing his trademark lack of positional sense by popping up on the right side of the box, but on this occasion I’ll let him off. 1-0.

PSG had enjoyed 62 per cent possession in the first half, but with a numerical advantage Dijon saw much more of the ball in the second period. We were doing a good job of keeping them at arms length until the regulation lapse from a set-piece occurred in the 76th minute. Gael Kakuta’s corner was flicked on by Corgnet and the giant Steve Paulle wriggled free to nod the ball in at the back post. So disappointing but so predictable, 1-1.

Now the home side had their tails up, and looked the more likely winners until an extraordinary lapse in stoppage time handed Les Rouges-et-Bleus the win.

Dijon had a corner, and for some reason committed their entire team forward, meaning when the ball broke to Menez he had acres of clear pitch to run into. The winger carried the ball all the way up the field, pursued by a couple of defenders, before coolly playing in Gameiro, who rifled his shot past Reynet.

Cue a massive bundle in the corner, which is always pleasing to see, and moments later the final whistle sounded confirming PSG remain clear at the top of the table by a point, with Montpellier having easily dispatched Caen 3-0 in the late match on Sunday.

After this latest last-minute goal, which follows hot on the heels of those late equalisers against MHSC and Lyon, confidence must be sky-high at the moment. And with Montpellier showing no signs of faltering either, that can only be a good thing ahead of what will be a tough run-in.

Man of the Match: Blaise Matuidi - Covered miles and miles in the middle of the park, especially after Sissoko's red card 

Friday, 9 March 2012

Record-breaking PSG head for Dijon

"Certainly PSG is the club of all records," announces Le Parisien today. Sadly this latest record is about as welcome as a copy of Phil Collins' greatest hits, as the club is set to post a loss of €100million this year.

Buying a load of expensive players and hiring an expensive manager, as well as paying off his predecessor, are the obvious reasons for this. If accurate, that figure makes us more financially viable than Manchester City (£197million, or ~€235million losses last year) but less thrifty than Chelsea (£67million or ~€80million losses).

The comparison with the two Premier League teams probably isn't massively relevant as those two clubs are at a different stage of their project, and have more revenue from TV rights, Champions League participation, etc. But their figures do highlight the lunacy of club resident Nasser al-Khelaifi's comments in the Italian press.

"In five years, by improving revenue marketing, TV rights sales and including tickets, we will start making profits," he told the Gazetta dello Sport. An admirable idea, but Chelsea have been saying that for more than five years, and even allowing for their frequent (and costly) managerial changes don't seem any closer to achieving it. Certainly the PSG will have to do something, as €100million are supposedly going to become a thing of the past when EUFA's financial fair play rules come in for the 2014/15 season.

Meanwhile PSG probably also holds the record for the highest number of stupid fans in Ligue 1, and 50 of them stormed the Camp des Loges training ground on Thursday to protest at the treatment they receive when trying to attend away games. A letter was delivered, angry noise was made, and a camera-man from L'Equipe TV was assaulted.

Last season, following all the trouble in 2009/10 which saw PSG supporters literally killing each other in skirmishes outside the Parc-des-Princes, the so-called Leproux plan, instigated by former president Robin Leproux, was put in place to try and kerb the violence. The plan included random distribution of seats, meaning rival fans couldn't congregate so easily on the Bolougne Kop and Tribune D'Auteil, as they had done previously.

Restrictions were also put in place about travelling to away matches, though these were lifted at the start of the season, and all had been fine up until the Lyon game last month. Around 1,000 PSG fans headed south for the match, but unfortunately some Pwoper Nawty boys wrecked a service-station en route, and as a result for the rest of the season away travel will only be allowed as part of an official, club-organised, trip.

The protesting fans claim the club is losing it's soul, and you can sort of see their point: as more high-profile players arrive, ticket prices are unlikely to go down, the stadium is likely to become filled with the brigade en sandwich crevettes. But on the other hand, if they didn't behave like idiots then they wouldn't be treated like idiots: Trust, encouragement, reward, loyalty, satisfaction, as David Brent once said, and invading your own team's training ground isn't really the action of a group that's going to be taken seriously by anyone.

The restrictions will be in place this Sunday when we head to Dijon. Insert appropriate gag about needing to cut the mustard here.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The PSG Rumour Mill: Not so super Tuesday

For me there’s something a bit wrong about one of the defining moments in the race to elect the leader of the free world being named Super Tuesday. Whenever I hear the event mentioned I half expect Simon Cowell to appear and start critiquing Rick Santorum’s speeches or something. Personally I think they should just throw Obama, Romney et al out the window and elect David Palmer (above) from 24. Except that he’s fictitious and dead, so that might not work.

So far it hasn’t been a particularly super Tuesday over in Paris, as nothing much seems to be happening at the PSG . But in the absence of any real news, the rumour mill is still functioning correctly.

Over in Italy, Napoli’s Marek Hamsik may or may not be fluttering his eye-lids at PSG.

Depending on which website’s spin you believe, the Slovakian playmaker has expressed his admiration for PSG/re-iterated his commitment to Walter Mazzarri’s team.

“Even though I am at Napoli, all I can say is that I admire Paris St Germain,” he said in an interview with TF1. 

“They have new owners and a very ambitious side. I haven’t been contacted directly by them, but I have great respect for sporting director Leonardo.

“They are doing some excellent things with Carlo Ancelotti as boss. PSG have a great future ahead of them.”

All I can say that I admire cheese. And bread. And bread and cheese, mmm.

At least this rumour is vaguely more believable than the one which surfaced the other day linking us with a €67million move for Barcelona’s midfield maestro Xavi. Apparently PSG were preparing to take advantage of the uncertainty surround Pep Guardiola’s future to persuade Xavi to tika-taka his way to the French capital.

Leaving aside the fact that there is no particular uncertainty surrounding Guardiola, spending such a phenomenal amount of money on an increasingly injury-prone 32-year-old is illogical even by the standards of the men who thought David Beckham would be a good purchase.

Fortunately Xavi’s agent has poured cold water on the story, so hopefully this one will die a quick death: "Xavi is under contract until 2014 with the club and leaving the Catalan club is not among his plans," saidthe player’s agent Ivan Corretja.

Monday, 5 March 2012

PSG 4-1 Ajaccio: Menez and his top boyz

I haz the mad skilz

As footballing weekends go, this one couldn't have gone much better for those of a Parisien persuasion.

Marseille got done by Toulouse, Lille managed to throw away a two-goal lead against Auxerre, and perhaps most importantly an Olivier Giroud-less Montpellier could only draw 1-1 with Dijon.

It was all set for Paris St Germain to reclaim the leadership of Ligue 1, and they did so at a canter, beating Ajaccio 4-1.

Looking at the bare statistics, you may think that the score-line flattered PSG; after all, two of the goals came in the last five minutes. But Carlo Ancelotti's men were well worth their three-goal winning margin, and could've run up a bigger score were it not for some wasteful finishing in the closing stages.

Ancelotti made one change to the starting line-up from the team that drew 4-4 with Lyon, with Matuidi replacing Sissoko in midfield as part of a 4-3-2-1 cum 4-2-3-1, with Menez, Pastore and Nene getting forward to support Guillaume Hoarau. This system never looked that great during Antoine Kombouare's reign, but it worked pretty well today, and the impact of having the more muscular Hoarau in the side ahead of Kevin Gameiro cannot be underestimated.

For me Matuidi gives the team more than Sissoko, and he and Motta provided a good base for the creative players to go and, er, be creative.

It was Pastore who opened the scoring during a one-sided first half. El Flaco played a nice one-two with Matuidi before advancing into the box and finishing with aplomb. The goal was Pastore's first in Ligue 1 since he netted in the 4-2 victory over Caen at the end of October, and it's probably not much of an exaggeration to say this was his best performance since that purple patch back in autumn.

Pastore was also involved in the second goal two minutes later, feeding Jezza Menezza, who did the rest with a delighted curling shot which was lofted just out of reach of Guillarmo Ochoa in the visitors goal. 2-0.

Unfortunately, PSG's brilliance in attack is always tempered by their incompetence in defence. I like to think of our back four as being like an old, crap, car - you take out some defective parts (Tiene, Lugano) and replace them with better parts (Alex, Maxwell) but the end result is still an old, crap, car. Just before half-time they failed to deal with a free kick hoiked into the box, and though Sirigu blocked Diawara's initial shot, he could do nothing as Poullard snaffled the rebound.

Les Rouges-et-Bleu started the second half rather sluggishly, but our visitors from Corsica couldn't muster too much by way of shots on goal, and PSG gradually took control.

In fact it was only the brilliance of Ochoa that kept the score down, the Mexican reacting smartly to block Nene's effort from an acute angle, then diving full to his right to palm away a shot from Hoarau. When Ochoa was beaten, Nene's curling free kick came back off the cross-bar.

But with the fans inside the Parc-des-Princes perhaps anticipating a nervous last few minutes, Hoarau put the result beyond doubt with his fourth goal in three games. Nene was the architect, slipping a delightful through-ball into the striker's path, and he did the rest with a confident first-time finish.

One sour note of the afternoon was an injury to Maxwell, who limped off in the 77th minute. However, his replacement Siaka Tiene was involved in the fourth goal in stoppage time. The Ivorian's cross was volleyed back across the six-yard box by another sub, Clement Chantome, and Nene side-footed in from close-range. It was lovely to see Chantome on the pitch and involved in a goal, and we can only hope he has edged his way up the pecking order and will get more pitch-time during the run in.

Man of the Match: Jeremy Menez - End product was sometimes wayward, but this was one of his brightest games of the season.

Friday, 2 March 2012

PSG's month: February

"Don't panic, we'll be top again soon"
So month two of Carlo Ancelotti's reign has been and gone, and while the Italian still has yet to taste defeat as Paris St Germain boss, there have been a couple of bumps in the road.

February began with a routine-but-not-really 3-1 victory over Evian at the Parc-des-Princes. Thiago Motta was making his debut in the middle of the park, and did little to surprise anyone, popping the ball about with all the skill and grace of a footballing Roger Federer. After a promising opening 45 minutes, PSG fell to pieces like a footballing Andy Murray, going behind on the stroke of half-time. But with all the resilience of a footballing Novak Djokovic they fought back in the second half, Nene squeezing in an equaliser, then putting his side in front from the penalty spot, before Kevin Gameiro wrapped things up in stoppage time.

Leaving that match - and rubbish tennis analogies - behind, the following Sunday Les Rouges-et-Bleus made their way down to Nice, and fought out a 0-0 draw which was reportedly one of the worst football matches in history, notable only for the fact that it saw another January signing, defender Alex, make his debut. That midweek we progressed in the Coupe de France thanks to a 1-0 victory over Dijon. Nene, or as the official club website dubbed him, the Inevitable Nene, popped up with the winner. A home tie with Lyon awaits on March 21 in the quarters.

So far so mediocre, but the last two games upped the ante considerably. First met second at the Parc-des-Princes on February 19, with PSG hosting Montpellier. In what was a fast-flowing and entertaining encounter, PSG hit the front when Alex blasted in a free kick which swerved at the last minute to deceive Jourdren in the MHSC goal. But it was a short-lived lead, as Younes Belhanda darted in to head the equaliser just before the break to level for the paupers.

After half-time Montpellier had the better of it, despite the return of Javier Pastore, who came off the bench after recovering from injury. And it looked as if they would pull off a famous victory when John Utaka took advantage of more terrible marking to nod home Olivier Giroud's cross in the 82nd minute. However, just as the whole of Ligue 1 prepared to cheer a victory for the plucky under-dogs, Jezza Menezza produced a delightful bit of skill to turn away from his marker twice and set up a last minute leveller for substitute Guillame Hoarau, who made the final score 2-2.

That goal earned Hoarau a start ahead of the out-of-form Gameiro for last Saturday's trip to Lyon, and what an inspired change it turned out to be. Hoarau gave his side an early lead, sweeping home a clever free kick from Menez. Lyon may no longer have the star quality they possessed in their glory days, but they still have a few potential match-winners, and three of them got on the score-sheet in the first half. Bafe Gomis, Lisandro Lopez and Michel Bastos with a howitzer of a shot put Les Gones in command, only for a Nene penalty just before half time to reduce the arrears.

When Jimmy Briand made it 4-2, heading in a corner, the game looked to be up for PSG. But this team never knows when it's beaten, and Marcos Ceara, who had had a bit of a dig at Ancelotti in the press for freezing him out of the first team picture, came off the bench to smash in a goal that gave his team hope. Then right at the death Hoarau popped up to head in his second last minute equaliser in two weeks and tie the scores at 4-4.

That point could turn out to be a crucial one, but the short-terms result of that draw is that we're not top anymore, with the commendable Montpellier having edged past Bordeaux 1-0 to take over as Ligue 1 leaders. All PSG can do is keep winning their games, starting with Sunday's home game against Ajaccio, and wait for their rivals to slip up.

Player of the Month: Nene - Four more goals in Feb for the man who has rapidly become his team's key attacking player.

Match of the Month: Lyon 4-4 PSG. Must be a contender for game of the season, let alone the month.

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