Monday, 7 May 2012

Valenciennes 3-4 PSG: birthday-boy Menez helps his team go top

Regular readers will know that Jeremy Menez is a popular boy here at PSGT towers, so I'll start this blog by wishing him a happy 25th birthday for today.

Paris St-Germain forward Menez will no doubt be enjoying a bon anniversaire having scored what turned out to be the decisive goal in a 4-3 win over Valenciennes last night, a result which takes Les Rouge-et-Bleu back to the top of Ligue 1 on goal difference. One shudders to think what his missus - reality TV star Emilie Nef Naf - will have purchased him as a gift: gold-plated hair straighteners perhaps?

Anyway, back to the match. It was a contest that featured an abundance of terrible defending, starting when Vincent Aboubakar put the home side in front after eight minutes with a goal that took a massive deflection off the back-side of Alex to beat Salvatore Sirigu. Aboubakar was also involved three minutes later when his side made it two, seeing his shot saved by Sirigu before Remi Gomis poked the ball in from close range.

At this stage PSG's title challenge looked to be going the same way as Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency, but Le Parisiens have shown time and time again this season that they don't know when they're beaten. For a side which is often criticised for it's lack of cohesion or team spirit, their resilience is pretty impressive. I've blogged before on the number of points rescued from losing situations, and they could make all the difference come the end of the season.

Crucially in this match they retrieved a goal almost immediately, Jezza chipping a pass into the path of Nene, who scored from a narrow angle. Nene then turned provider, playing the ball through to Maxwell, who notched his first for the club from an even more acute position. Then on the stroke of half-time the Valenciennes defence parted like the Red Sea as Moses, I mean Javier Pastore, played a through ball for Blaise Matuidi to steer in the third.

Now PSG had the wind in their sails, and the fourth goal came after a picture-book passing move, Nene again working it into the path of Menez, who swept the ball over the keeper to make it 4-2. A pin-point free kick from Renaud Cohade made for a nervous last ten minutes, but the visitors held on to reclaim leadership of the league.

"I'm happy with the performances of all my players; they realised that playing together and playing simple is the way to go," said Carlo Ancelotti afterwards, sounding a bit like a frustrated school-teacher whose class have only just grasped how to do their 12-times table. "We're very happy to be back in the lead, even if it's only overnight."

Indeed, Montpellier will be back on top if they can win tonight's match in Rennes. With their game against Lille (who are also in action today against Caen) looming large, it's imperative that Rene Girard's side pick up a positive result.

Meanwhile Lyon's failure to beat Brest yesterday means PSG are definitely in next season's Champions League, which I'm sure most supporters would agree is exciting news. The stage at which we enter the competition will be clearer in two weeks time.


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