PSG take point from ASSE, but blow two-goal lead

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after his chipped penalty put PSG two up at St EtienneGettyImagesIbrahimovic celebrates after his chipped penalty put PSG two up at Etienne

Paris Saint-Germain's 2-2 draw with Saint-Etienne on Sunday extended the capital club's lead at the top of Ligue 1 to five points, but their failure to hold onto a two-goal lead means the result poses some familiar questions. An impressive opening 30 minutes gave way to a below-par performance from which PSG, at moments, were fortunate to escape with a point. Carlo Ancelotti's side themselves though can have no complaints about misfortune having been the recipients of some generous refereeing in the first half.

- Ligue 1: PSG throw away two-goal lead
- Video: St Etienne 2-2 PSG (UK and Ireland)

This was a PSG performance reminiscent of earlier in the season when the team were struggling to gel together and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the man with all the answers. The Swede did find the net at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Sunday, but it was from a re-taken penalty (a beautiful panenka effort) and he did miss a golden chance to make it 3-1 in the second half. However, the main questions are reserved for the defence, who contrived to ship two goals after the attacking unit had done their job within the opening 20 minutes.

Alex in particular had a torrid time dealing with Brandao and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, his own goal was a sign of things to come as Ancelotti's side let their guard down after establishing a healthy lead. The pairing of Alex and Thiago Silva rarely looked settled all night and the former was caught out a number of times in the match, even prior to the goal. With Mamadou Sakho looking on from the bench, it must be noted that the former Chelsea man is becoming an increasingly prone object in the heart of the Rouge-et-Bleu defence this season.

The visitors can feel a little aggrieved at the decision to allow play to continue after Brandao's foul on compatriot Silva that lead to the second goal. A clear foul by the former Marseille man was not spotted by the referee Antony Gautier and Francois Clerc ended up smashing home from the edge of the area. Hardly the most convincing argument for a PSG win, but les Verts certainly enjoyed a stroke of luck similar to the one their opponents were awarded in the first half.

Ancelotti's selection, though, will come into question in light of the recent spate of injuries. Marco Verratti, Jeremy Menez, Thiago Motta and Lucas Moura were all missing but the Italian opted to start Clement Chantome on the right of midfield with David Beckham in the middle, returning to the Geoffroy-Guichard for the first time in 15 years. Domestic talents such as Sakho and Kevin Gameiro were overlooked in favour of Beckham and Alex, with Christophe Jallet even starting on the bench as Gregory Van der Wiel got the nod. Bold choices from Ancelotti given the need for Ligue 1 experience going into the game in order to avoid defeat.

Chantome was full of fight and got stuck in, but it was impossible for him to function sufficiently from the right of midfield once again. Although he drifted inside on regular occasions, the choice put unnecessary pressure on Beckham and Blaise Matuidi. Although that didn't tell in the early stages as PSG raced into a 2-0 lead inside of 20 minutes, the choice weighed heavily in the second half, particularly when Chantome was taken off. Beckham for his part looked average, making a number of mistimed tackles and misplacing a handful of passes as he struggled to get into the game and became increasingly irritated as the evening wore on.

Given Lyon's hammering by Bastia on Saturday, any result other than a defeat was a positive one, particularly considering the injury problems before the game. However, discarding a two-goal lead is a criminal offence, particularly when chasing a title and PSG were ultimately unable to capitalise on the Corsicans' gift. The lapses in concentration, a familiar sight in the first half of the season, need to be stamped out once again to ensure that this complacency does not continue when circumstances are more favourable for Ancelotti in terms of personnel. The final verdict will not likely be so considerate next time.

Overall though the point is a positive one as it moves Les Parisiens five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 heading into the international break, but this draw, in many ways, will feel like a defeat.

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