PSG salvage draw but tempers boil over once more

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Thiago Silva gets his marching orders against ValenciennesGettyImagesThiago Silva gets his marching orders against Valenciennes

Paris Saint-Germain will have to wait at least another week until they can potentially be crowned Ligue 1 champions officially, but what was supposed to be a title procession heading into the weekend actually turned out to be a farce. Alex's late header salvaged a deserved draw for Carlo Ancelotti's side, but confusion appeared to reign as PSG failed to hit top gear against a mid-table Valenciennes team.

After the debacle in Evian last week, you'd think that the capital club would take it upon themselves to ensure that the same ugly scenes would not be repeated again anytime soon. But three minutes before half-time at the Parc des Princes, referee Alexandre Castro turned the game on its head by sending PSG captain Thiago Silva off for what looked like a push on him. If it was indeed the physical contact between the Brazilian and the official that prompted the Frenchman to produce a straight red card, then it is an outrageous decision. What has not yet been revealed is whether Silva said anything as well as the minimal contact he made in trying to communicate with Castro.

Ancelotti's side were already trailing by this point, having fallen behind to a Gael Danic goal in the 17th minute. Nicolas Douchez, in for the suspended Salvatore Sirigu, spilt Vincent Aboubakar's shot and Danic had an easy finish. The goal dampened the jubilant home crowd who were expecting to spark title celebrations on the full-time whistle and PSG were struggling to create much going forward. The half-fit Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi both missed great chances before Ancelotti was forced to replace Jeremy Menez, who had started alongside the Swede, when Silva saw red.

A feisty second half followed and Castro struggled to keep up with play. No fewer than five players from the capital club ended the match with bookings as well as Silva's straight red, and Ibrahimovic's yellow came after the whistle as he remonstrated with the referee who simply lost control of the game. It got worse after that, though. With Ancelotti and Ibra already having words with Castro, sporting director Leonardo went to confront the official and appeared to shove him on the way back to the dressing rooms. After a week when sanctions have been high on the club's list of activities, it seems another lesson in discipline is required after this showing, although the reactions were somewhat understandable given the baffling nature of the decisions.

On the pitch, PSG put Valenciennes under concerted pressure and it eventually paid off. Substitute Alex rose highest to head home with seven minutes to go, preserving the capital club's unbeaten league run to eight matches. It is the first time in seven games thought that they have dropped points and they now travel to Lyon next weekend in need of the points to end the 19-year wait for a title. The equaliser was no less than the hosts deserved, but the game's events killed the euphoric early atmosphere that followed the premature news that RMC Radio had claimed before the match: that Ancelotti had reportedly announced to the club and players that he will remain in charge of the team next season.

There were still some positives to take from the match, though. Mamadou Sakho and Clement Chantome were both magnificent. Neither has played as big a role as they would have liked this season, although Chantome has enjoyed far more success as a squad rotation player than Sakho who is a capable starter. Neither wasted the opportunity, putting in committed performances that reflected the fans' hunger to sew up the title as early as possible. Sakho's bravery to continue when PSG were down to 10 men and the French international was injured in the second period was commendable and the fans cheered his every movement from that moment until the end of the match to carry him through. With so many around them showing a lack of appetite to confirm the title, two of the players who it arguably means the most to as home grown academy graduates did their best to help salvage a point.

But the fact remains that PSG passed up a glorious opportunity to all but confirm the title, and they put pressure on themselves heading to Lyon. It was a tired performance at times against Valenciennes and travelling to the Stade Gerland needing a win against a side still with ambitions of a top three finish now puts the side under unnecessary stress, especially if Marseille win next weekend. PSG could yet make a meal out of this title run-in.

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