Cavani on target as late heroics salvage point

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

PSG celebrate Blaise Matuidi's injury time equaliser.GettyImagesPSG celebrate Blaise Matuidi's injury time equaliser.

Paris Saint-Germain staged a late comeback to rescue a point at AS Saint-Etienne on Sunday, drawing 2-2 after finding themselves 2-0 down after 51 minutes. Edinson Cavani and Blaise Matuidi cancelled out Benjamin Corgnet and Romain Hamouma's strikes to ensure a share of the spoils, but it was a far from vintage Ligue 1 showing from PSG.

The sending off of Les Verts' midfielder Fabien Lemoine on the hour mark, when PSG were 2-0 down, helped Laurent Blanc's side at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Le President then watched his men fight back to level at 2-2 in the third minute of time added on, but it was no less than the defending champions deserved for showing grit and determination to claw their way back into the clash.

The score line was a mirror image of last season's 2-2 draw in March, but instead of racing into a 2-0 lead only to throw it away, PSG were the ones chasing the game at one point. In many ways it was a disappointing performance, but it was a satisfying result. The side from the capital remain unbeaten in 30 competitive matches and are now 22 games without defeat in Ligue 1.

While it would be easier to pick out those who underperformed on the night in the Loire, some perspective is needed.

Following the week that PSG and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in particular have had, Blanc's side were expected to steamroll their opposition once again. That rarely ever happens for any side against Christophe Galtier's men, let alone PSG who have a particularly poor record against them. Instead, it was the character shown by the Parisians that was the most encouraging point to take from the performance.

Blaise Matuidi, featuring against his former club, and the ever-dependable Maxwell were the star performers on the night for PSG. Nobody epitomised the never say die attitude that the side showed on the night more than those two. It was the France and Brazil internationals who were central to both of the visitors' goals.

Maxwell's inviting cross followed an excellent short corner routine, bringing Blanc's side back into it with Cavani prodding home from close range. The Brazilian was also excellent in control of the ball, looking calm, collected and purposeful when others were wasting possession and looking short of ideas.

Matuidi though was the driving force behind the equaliser. Having already gone close himself earlier in the second half, firing an Ibrahimovic chipped pass wide, he kept pushing forward in search of the second goal. On his third return to the Geoffroy-Guichard, the 26-year-old netted the leveller in bizarre circumstances. His chipped ball forward looked to have found Cavani and, although there was a suggestion that there was minimal contact between El Matador and the ball as it crept past Stephane Ruffier, the goal was credited to Matuidi.

Blanc's role in the salvaging of an important point must also be acknowledged. He made some vital changes at the right time. Just as the hosts were getting used to playing with one man less, the PSG tactician seized the chance to swing the momentum in the capital club's favour with two attacking changes. Ezequiel Lavezzi made way for Lucas Moura, while Alex came off for Jeremy Menez and Thiago Motta slotted into central defence.

Moura was lively and stretched the ASSE back line, including the impressive Kurt Zouma, despite making little meaningful contribution. However, his presence unsettled the hosts and with Menez fresh off the bench too, the PSG attack gained a second wind.

The France international's performance left a lot to be desired, looking disinterested and as if he were yawning with boredom at times, but despite that he helped contribute to the change in momentum that Blanc was the architect of. Other question marks hang over Marquinhos and Salvatore Sirigu, both at fault for the two Saint-Etienne goals.

Marquinhos made a mess of a clearance in the first half that presented the ball to Romain Hamouma who fed Corgnet. The finish was excellent, but the Brazilian teenager should see it as a learning curve. Nothing can detract from the excellent start he has made to his PSG career. Sirigu will also need to shake off his error. The Italian spilled what should have been a routine catch and, despite perhaps having a case for being impeded, presented the hosts with a soft second goal. Given his routine heroics for the side from the capital though, the mistake should be chalked up to a one-off and a bad day at the office.

At the end of the day, a point is better than none and some fans would arguably have taken that outcome pre-match because of PSG's poor recent history at the Geoffroy-Guichard. Level at the top of Le Championnat alongside title rivals AS Monaco on 25 points, but one goal better off, there could have been worse endings to the weekend.

Overall, it has been a massively positive last seven days and PSG can look forward to Friday's clash with FC Lorient full of confidence despite the below par performance.


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