Monday, 23 April 2012

PSG 6-1 Sochaux: The joy of six

Armand star-jumps his way to a first goal of the season
Much like the French presidential election, the Ligue 1 title race remains too close to call.

And just like in the election, the established, cash-rich, candidate is trailing the unheralded outsider by a few points. Extending this analogy would mean comparing Lille to Marie La Pen's Front National, so I'd better stop now before I offend too many LOSC fans.

Like Sarkozy, Paris St-Germain aren't going down without a fight, though as far as I'm aware our plan to over-take Montpellier doesn't include courting the support of the far-right. Instead we have to keep winning on the pitch, and as statements of intent go, yesterday's 6-1 tonking of Sochaux was a pretty decent one.

Ancelotti made one change, Javier Pastore restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Kevin Gamiero, with Hoarau joining Super Kev on the bench after returning from his suspension.

PSG dispelled any notion that this was a negative formation by flying out of the traps. Pastore began the game like a man possessed, and opened the scoring in the sixth minute. A couple of swift give-and-goes with Nene took the Argentine into the box, and he kept his cool to step inside a defender and lash home. I must confess I felt he'd dwelt on the ball too long, and was shouting "JUST BLOODY SHOOT" at my screen as JP teed himself up. I should've had more faith.

Up to that point Sochaux had shown very little to suggest they might make a game of it, but they equalised in the 12th minute following an error from Salvatore Sirigu. The goalkeeper came to collect a long ball into the box from Marvin Martin, but got nowhere near his intended target allowing Modibo Maiga to flick the ball into the empty net.

In Maiga, Martin and Riad Boudebouz, Sochaux have an attacking trio to rival most in Ligue 1, but at the other end of the pitch they are not quite so impressive, which is perhaps why they are ensconced in a relegation battle. In fact the defending on show from both sides was pretty rancid, and PSG were lucky to escape when they were sliced open by a slick passing move from the visitors. The ball reached Maiga in the box, who set himself well but somehow hit the post from eight yards when it seemed easier to score.

He would live to regret that miss, as PSG scored twice before half-time to put the result beyond doubt. First, Thiago Motta got free to nod in a Nene free kick for his first goal for the club. In a piece of marking Diego Lugano would have been proud of, Motta was left completely free and converted with aplomb.

Then on the stroke of half-time, Pastore played a superb pass with the outside of his boot that released Siaka Tiene, and his cross was perfect for Jeremy Menez, who climbed highest at the near post to flick a header past Teddy Richert.

3-1 became 4-1 ten minutes after the break, as Nene snaked out a leg to convert a demon of a cross from Christophe Jallet. Richert had already made a good save to deny Jezza Menezza, who also blasted over when well placed. And with Les Lionceaux - the Lion Cubs - rolling over like kittens, Nene was able to add his second and PSG's fifth. Again Jallet was the provider, with a ball over the top that put the winger in the clear, and he produced a trademark finish, walking round the keeper and slotting home.

All that was left was for substitute Sylvain Armand to add the final goal in stoppage time. The magnificent Pastore slipped a ball inside the full-back to Armand, who advanced into the box and found the far corner with a low shot.

So yeah, overall a super performance, if you can forget the atrocious defending which we displayed for much of the first-half. We'll need to be much better at the back against Lille next weekend, but at least we can go into that game brimming with confidence.

Man of the Match: Javier Pastore - Possibly his best game for the club, and if El Flaco can rediscover his best form between now and the end of the season, he could be the difference between us and Montpellier.


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