Monday, 26 August 2013

Nantes 1-2 PSG: Lavezzi's precious strike gives Blanc welcome three points

It wasn't particularly pretty, but PSG's season is up and running properly after last night's 2-1 win in Nantes.

Last season it took us four matches to secure a first victory, so in that respect Laurent Blanc is making better progress than his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti.

"I hope it's the first of a long winning run otherwise I'll be packing my bags before I've had chance to redecorate my office," said Blanc afterwards.

"It was a tough result to get, but it's one that is more than precious to us. I thought we could have had an easier match. The beginning of our season has been complicated, and even getting a win has been complicated."

Things didn't look particularly complicated for about half an hour. Lining up in a new-fangled 4-3-3 formation, with Pastore dropping into central midfield alongside Motta and Matuidi, PSG dominated proceedings early on.

Though chances were at a premium, we kept the ball well, and Zlatan had an effort blocked by the body of Canaris keeper Remy Riou. The possession eventually told in the 24th minute; Pastore found Ibra, and his swift turn and inch-perfect pass set Cavani clear down the right channel. El Matador took a couple of touches before dispatching an expert low finish across Riou for his second goal in two games. 

So far so good, but the goal seemed to spur Nantes into life. Boss Michel Der Zakarian switched his side's system from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3, matching PSG man-for-man, and for a 30-minute spell either side of half-time the home side were well on top.

Salvatore Sirigu saved well from Vincent Basset and Cichero before half-time, but was powerless to stop the 53rd minute equaliser. A free kick wide on the Nantes left was whipped into the back post, and the ball bounced off the ample thigh of Alex and into the net for an own-goal.

At this point the home side looked the more likely winners, with PSG struggling to keep hold of the ball for any length of time, and Zlatan cutting an increasingly frustrated figure up front. Indeed it took a flying save from Sirigu to prevent Bedoya's looping header finding the top corner, as the fanatical, noisy, home crowd sensed an upset.

But then Nantes seemed to run out of steam, and PSG, pepped up by the introduction of Lucas and Verratti, found a second wind. The previously quiet Ezequiel Lavezzi gave notice of what was to come with a powerful run down the left, and with 17 minutes remaining El Pocho made the break-through.

A slick passing move down the left saw the ball fed inside to Ibra, who flicked a first time pass round the corner for Blaise Matuidi to run on to. His low ball across the six-yard box was missed completely by Cavani, but ran to Lucas at the back post. Though his shot was cleared off the line, Lavezzi was on hand to ram in the rebound.

Overall it's difficult to take too much from the game other than the points. The 4-3-3 set-up worked to a point, but it was worrying how easily we lost control of the game to a team newly promoted from Ligue 2. Similarly, the Zlavani partnership showed some really promising signs in the first half, but in the second period the two were on completely different wavelengths, to the extent that they got in each other's way on a couple of occasions. 

With another of the new-boys, Guingamp, next up at the Parc des Princes on Saturday, Blanc will be hoping his team can start to build some momentum and close the four point gap that already exists between ourselves and Marseille.

Man of the Match: Salvatore Sirigu - On a night where most of PSG's outfield players put in stuttering performances, Sirigu's brilliant goalkeeping kept his side in it. I really don't like his new hair cut though.


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