Cavani debut goal secures PSG a point in unexpected thriller

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Edinson Cavani celebrates his late leveller for PSG against AjaccioGettyImagesEdinson Cavani celebrates his late leveller for PSG against Ajaccio.

Paris Saint-Germain might have been held to a 1-1 draw by Ajaccio at the Parc des Princes on Sunday, but the performance was not as poor as the disappointing score line suggests. It was far from it, in fact. The result does not do justice to the sheer quantity of chances created by Laurent Blanc's side.

However, despite the fact that the French champions can take plenty of encouragement from their showing, the overall result and two further points being dropped is not good enough. Prematch, a strong performance and a victory were required, but only half of it was delivered as the hosts struggled to break down Fabrizio Ravanelli's side.

Commeth the hour commeth the man, though, Edinson Cavani showed exactly why PSG paid Napoli €64 million for his signature.

With 86 minutes on the clock and Blanc's side desperately in need of a goal, the Uruguayan gave the by-then-incensed home supporters the moment that they had been waiting for -- the moment everyone has been waiting for, in fact. "El Matador" produced a sensational strike, one that was brilliantly taken and not just a simple finish assembled by his teammates to be completed by him.

The celebration was relatively muted despite the quality of the strike, but, by that point, PSG had grown irate at how difficult it was becoming to score. For the entire match, the hosts bossed the proceedings, accumulating 77 percent of overall possession, which produced 39 shots.

Benoit Pedretti's opening goal, though very well taken, came totally against the run of play as early as the ninth minute. It was literally Ajaccio's only sight of goal for the entire 90 minutes. Had Guillermo Ochoa not been performing such heroics in goal, the Corsicans would have arguably been on the end of a demoralising defeat. In the second half in particular, it was a PSG onslaught; chance after chance was being created and then squandered.

Ochoa was in such inspired form that he managed to pull off 12 saves, but, given 17 efforts were on target, there were other things going against Blanc's side. When it wasn't the sensational Mexico international denying the side from the capital, it was the crossbar. Thiago Silva hit the woodwork twice, and a number of other opportunities were either blocked on the line or by last-ditch challenges.

Having started the brighter, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Blaise Matuidi, Lucas Moura, Thiago Motta and Silva all refused to hide after Ajaccio's surprise opener. The talismanic Ibrahimovic was the catalyst for the hosts, trying to drive PSG forward at every opportunity, desperate to draw level as well as integrate new striker partner Cavani into the play.

Matuidi was as irrepressible as ever in the midfield, but he unfortunately had to be substituted after a clash of heads with Corsican youngster Joshua Nadeau. The France international was taken to a hospital after having a nasty wound stitched off the pitch.

Christophe Jallet and Javier Pastore were particularly poor. The Frenchman is looking increasingly out of place in this current PSG side, and he was often at fault when possession was given away cheaply. The goal came from his side of the defence after the 29-year-old lost his man.

Pastore, like in previous weeks, gave the ball away too easily and did not work hard enough to win it back. His less-than-impressive attitude deserving of the booing he received when he made way for Ezequiel Lavezzi in the 58th minute. The difference was clear immediately, and the former Napoli man helped set the stage for Cavani's heroics, providing an infinitely more direct threat than Pastore.

PSG are developing a nasty habit of conceding early goals and making their matches more challenging than they need to be. The complacency factor plays a part in this, but the team should not assume that their impressive defensive record last season means they are completely infallible at the back. Both of the goals conceded so far this campaign have come within the first 10 minutes of the game, something Blanc must address.

Overall, though, it is not a disaster, and, in fact, two draws are the same results as last season's opening two rounds. Even then, PSG took another two matches to register a victory, so there should be no hasty reactions to the result.

With 77 percent possession, 39 shots on goal (17 of which were on target) and 88 percent of successful passes, it was total domination in every way except for in the score line, and "Le President" needs to get the team playing like that more often. The Ibrahimovic-Cavani partnership also showed glimpses of promise that the relationship can work, and, crucially, the Uruguayan is already off the mark in PSG colours.

Blanc's face in the first half told a story, but two matches might be an unfair number to judge a coach on. Indeed, he will be given longer to prove himself, but his expressions portrayed a man who knows that the heat is well and truly on already, and this result has not helped despite a number of positives.


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