Sunday, 31 March 2013

PSG 1-0 Montpellier: Gameiro - la renard dans la boite

How nice it is to have Ligue 1 back after a two-week international break.

Paris Saint-Germain resumed their quest for the title with a 1-0 victory over reigning champions Montpellier on Friday night, substitute Kevin Gameiro slotting home the only goal nine minutes from time to send PSG eight points clear at the top of the table.

"We showed a good mental attitude," said Carletto afterwards. "We took three very important points in terms of the table and also to prepare for Tuesday's match against Barcelona with a good atmosphere around the place. It was a good performance. Gameiro showed he's focused just like all the others. Maybe I should give him more game time. He scored an important goal and not for the first time."

Performance-wise it was solid rather than spectacular, but on the balance of chances we probably deserved the three points. Montpellier gave a good account of themselves, and looked good going forward, particularly when the lively Remy Cabella got on the ball. But as often seems to be the case with Ligue 1 teams, they lacked cutting edge, and Salvatore Sirigu was rarely tested.

To be fair to Rene Girard's side, Michael Joudren wasn't particularly busy either, though he should have been picking the ball out of his net in the first minute. Pastore's pass released Clement Chantome in the box, but with Joudren at his mercy he dragged his shot wide.

With Ezequiel Lavezzi rested ahead of Tuesday's much-hyped clash with Barcelona, Jeremy Menez was back in the starting line-up, and to mark the occasion decided to shave some of the hair off his head and stick it on his chin:

Perhaps this facial hair distracted referee Bien when Jezza appeared to be tripped in the box by Strambouli, because for some reason he failed to award a penalty. Prior to this Verratti's lovely chipped pass had found Zlatan lurking with intent in the area, but as Joudren raced out the Swede was only able to poke his shot over the bar.

Charbonnier shot wide at the other end for MHSC, but the final word of the half went to Ibra, who received a pass from Menez but hit a weak first time shot straight at Joudren when he had time to pick his spot.

The second half was mainly dominated by PSG, with Montpellier's losing impetus as the tricky Cabella, just back from a long spell on the sidelines, started to fade. Menez shot wide after an Ibra knock-down, and Van der Wiel wellied a shot over the bar from a good position.

However, a goal didn't look particularly imminent until the introduction of Gameiro, who made the difference nine minutes from time. MHSC were architects of their own downfall, giving the ball away to Jezza 35 yards from goal. He spread play wide to Ibra, who slid a low ball across the box which Gameiro tucked away from seven yards.

As I said, it was a solid performance, and nobody let the side down, with Pastore, Matuidi, Verratti and Van der Wiel  making particularly good contributions. Chantome also worked hard, but is clearly not suited to playing on the right flank, and the team would surely have had a better balance had Gameiro started up top with Ibra, allowing Menez to move out to the right side of midfield.

At the time it was hardly a display that will have Barcelona quaking in their boots. A big improvement will be needed if Tuesday's match is to end positively for us.

Man of the Match: Javier Pastore - Worked hard and showed some good invention going forward.


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