Monday, 7 October 2013

Marseille 1-2 PSG: Team Paris triumph in the Turpinico

Team work, hard graft, and other such Tony Pulis-isms are not descriptors usually associated with Paris Saint-Germain.

But the team displayed plenty of grit, spirit and all that other dour-but-necessary stuff as they recovered from 1-0 down to beat Marseille 2-1 at the Velodrome last night.

We were also a player down after Thiago Motta's first half red card, and coach Laurent Blanc was understandably chuffed.

"Desire was a very important factor this evening, because, given the circumstances, we couldn't have achieved anything without it," said Blanc. "We showed incredible solidarity.

"We always believed we could win this match, even after the sending off. At half-time we all thought we could go on and win it. For the coaching staff and the players, it's immensely satisfying."

I can assure Larry and the boys that it was quite satisfying for us fans too, especially as we not only had to beat OM but also had to overcome the delightful arbitre Clement Turpin.

They say the best referees are the ones you don't notice, and by that reckoning Mssr Turpin must be really, really, bad. He'd shown 12 red cards in 12 games before last night, and ensured he would be in the headlines once more by making Thiago Motta his unlucky 13th victim.

Motta's boot was high as he challenged Mathieu Valbeuna for a loose ball in the 31st minute, though Valby's triple-roll-screaming-in-agony reaction was not particularly edifying. Probably a penalty, but quite what caused Turpin to issue the red card I have no idea. The PSG players were miffed, but Andre Ayew kept his cool to send Salvatore Sirigu the wrong way. 0-1.

Up to that point PSG had dominated possession, but the three clearest chances had fallen to the home side, with Sirigu pushing Valbeuna's free kick around the post, then making a smart double stop to foil Valby and Jordan Ayew.

Following the spot kick, Blanc made an immediate change, with Lavezzi sacrificed for Adrien Rabiot as we switched to a 4-3-2 formation. And the equaliser came on the stroke of half-time; Greg Van der Wiel floated in a cross and, as Steve Mandanda hesitated, Maxwell nipped in to flick a header over him and into the net. The teddy bear does it again, 1-1.

With a man advantage, the game seemed well set for Marseille to push on and try to get a win which would keep them firmly in the title race, but they showed a disappointing lack of attacking intent. Traditionally, French managers prefer to protect a point rather than going for a win, and it appears this is a trait which afflicts OM boss Elie Baup. It took an unconventional scooping block from Sirigu to stop a shot from the otherwise quiet Dimitri Payet, but the home side rarely threatened, and as the crowd began to get frustrated we delivered the killer blow.

The goal stemmed from a corner which wasn't dealt with properly by Mandanda. Marquinhos retrieved possession but was heading away from goal when Andre Ayew bundled him over. A stupid, unnecessary challenge, but a clear penalty which even Turpin couldn't fail to spot. With fireworks going off around him and a couple of lasers shining out from the crowd, Zlatan stepped up and sent Mandanda the wrong way. Six goals in four games against OM for the the ProblemBear, 2-1.

Marseille threw on Andre-Pierre Gignac and Florian Thauvin, but neither was able to make an impact, and the closing stages were only enlivened by the constant flow of bookings dished out by Turpin. Seven players were cautioned by Ligue 1's most card-happy official, though he bottled out of issuing a second booking to Marseille's Rod Fanni, initially pulling out his note-book when Fanni brought down Edinson Cavani, but then changing his mind when he realised who it was. Berk.

But Turpin's antics shouldn't take away from what was an outstanding team display from PSG. If Blanc still has any doubters within our fanbase, this impressive win against the old enemy should go some way to changing their minds.

Man of the Match: Blaise Matuidi - Having Big Bad Blaise in the side compensated for playing with ten men for so long. The midfielder put in a typically all-action display, and showed the much-hyped Giannelli Imbula exactly what he should be aspiring to.


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