Ibra Sees Red As PSG Come Unstuck

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty ImagesSaint Etienne's 2-1 win at PSG should serve as a timely reminder to Carlos Ancelotti's side that it is not invincible.

The inevitable finally happened on Saturday when Paris Saint-Germain's unbeaten start to the Ligue 1 season came to an end, defeated 2-1 at home to Saint-Etienne. The unbeaten record, the only one left in the division prior to Week 11, had perhaps been living a charmed life in recent weeks as Carlo Ancelotti's men were grinding out results despite not playing that well. Yet the capital club could have no complaints come full-time at the Parc des Princes on Saturday though, undone by a superb second half cameo from les Verts' Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a determined ASSE team.

Les Stephanois dominated proceedings and made PSG look distinctly average, something that hasn't happened so far this season -- at least domestically. The midfield lacked its normal composure and authority as Ancelotti had to offset the disappointing early exit of Blaise Matuidi through injury, who came off second-best in an awkward clash with ASSE midfielder Josuha Guilavogui.

Up top, les-Rouges-et-Bleus were found lacking too with Zlatan Ibrahimovic looking like a shadow of the player who has illuminated Ligue 1 in recent weeks. No doubt about it -- Saint-Etienne deserved the win and produced a performance that will remind PSG that they are not invincible.

Despite largely being an afternoon to forget for the hosts though, there were a few rays of light. First, Guillaume Hoarau scored his first goal since March and is enjoying a mini revival in the capital after a strong of appearances. The striker was thought to be dead and buried having not had a chance after the first handful of games, but to his credit he has waited patiently for his deserved opportunity and played well in the recent clashes with Dinamo Zagreb and Marseille. Given half an hour to impress on Saturday, he scored a well-taken consolation goal meaning that of all the PSG strikers, only Argentine summer arrival Ezequiel Lavezzi has yet to find the net (excluding reserve frontman Peguy Luyindula).

There has been plenty of speculation surrounding PSG's perceived overreliance on Ibrahimovic in recent weeks, but Kevin Gameiro, Jeremy Menez and now Hoarau are proving that wrong. They will continue to get the chance to help in the coming weeks as the talismanic Swede begins a domestic suspension following his straight red card for a high challenge on Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier. The Ibra red card -- however debatable -- means that PSG now need to prove beyond all that doubt that they are indeed not dependent on the inimitable Swede.

Overall the defeat -- PSG's first at the Parc des Princes since Ancelotti took over last year -- should serve as a wake-up call. The club had been drifting along in recent weeks after a series of impressive early wins had turned into narrow, hard-fought victories that exhibited little of the expansive football one might expect from an expensively assembled team. Complacency had begun to creep into their Champions League football as well as recent league form -- a puzzling defeat to Porto followed PSG's impressive demolition of Dynamo Kiev. Ancelotti's men are perhaps guilty of walking before they could run and now have the chance to correct their shortcomings without Saturday's loss costing them too much in the long-term.

Yes, Saint-Etienne are only four points behind the capital club now and both Toulouse and Marseille can close the gap on them with victories on Sunday, but this defeat was needed in a way to teach the players a lesson. Many have looked at Ligue 1 this season and scoffed at the possibility of PSG being unable to claim the title but as last season showed, regular lapses in concentration and complacency will cost the team. Ancelotti must address this now to avoid a more costly slip-up further down the line; for now, mercifully, the result is just a minor setback.

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