Monday, 27 May 2013

Lorient 1-3 PSG: Keeper craziness enlivens final fixture

I'm sure I wasn't the only Paris Saint-Germain fan who wasn't particularly excited by the prospect of last night's game at Lorient.

With neither side having anything to play for, I was expecting a dull end-of-season affair, but events in the second half ensured it was actually quite entertaining.

Three goals to the good and cruising to victory, Carlo Ancelotti did the decent thing and handed a debut to 38-year-old fourth choice keeper Ronan Le Crom, who came on in place of Alphonse Areola. Le Crom hadn't played a match of note since the end of the 2009/10 season, but looked in fine nick, making a couple of good reaction saves before it all went horribly wrong.

With five minutes remaining substitute Julien Quercia raced clear on goal, and toppled over Le Crom's clumsy challenge. It was an obvious penalty, but with Sylvain Armand back and covering, the following red card for Le Crom seemed a trifle harsh.

"I said to him, do not do this to me, please, this is perhaps the last game of my career," said a dejected Le Crom afterwards. "The referee told me he had to expel me for fear of being reprimanded by his peers. It's a shame but it will remain as a lasting memory."

No doubt it will also be a lasting memory for Mamadou Sakho, who looked overcome with joy as he donned the goalkeeper's jersey for the closing stages. The defender had a massive grin on his face despite being beaten by Arnaud Le Lan's penalty, and went on to make a couple of decent catches as PSG saw out the finals moments without conceding futher.

Overall the match was a fairly decent encapsulation of the season: Zlatan scored, a player dubiously was sent off, and PSG ended up winning by a slightly flattering scoreline.

It was goalless at half-time, with Areola having made a decent stop to foil Fabien Robert, and Javier Pastore shooting wide at the other end after a lovely move involving Ibra and Verratti.

Kevin Gameiro replaced Ezequiel Lavezzi early on, El Pocho having sustained a head injury in a clash with Mario Lemina. And it was ancien Lorientaise Gameiro who provided the pass for the opening goal just after half-time, with a lovely cross which Ibra chested into the net from six yards for his 30th goal of the season.

PSG had started the second half in purposeful mood, and Gameiro's quickfire double, in the 62nd and 65th minutes, made sure of the victory. The second goal was particularly sweet, with Pastore's pass finding Super Kev, who did the rest with a powerful volley.

Then came the keeper shenanigans, but it between times players from both teams stopped to give a standing ovation to Ludovic Guily, the former PSG forward playing the last game of what was an illustrious career. He was handed a PSG shirt by his former team-mate Armand as he exited the pitch, and then got to have his picture taken with the loitering David Beckham at the final whistle, which I'm sure he really enjoyed. 

I wrote this love letter to Guily back at the start of the season, and my feelings haven't changed since. Ligue 1 will be a sadder place without him.

Overall it was a satisfactory end to a very satisfactory season, with PSG ending the campaign with 83 league points and 101 goals in all competitions, a new club record.

"After the celebrations, my players stayed focused and united," said Ancelotti. "It was a great match, a great way to end a great season. Everyone is happy."


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