Gameiro spares PSG's blushes against Montpellier

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

PSG celebrate Kevin Gameiro's winner against MontpellierGettyImagesPSG celebrate Kevin Gameiro's winner against Montpellier

Substitute Kevin Gameiro's 81st-minute goal secured a priceless 1-0 win for Paris Saint-Germain over defending champions Montpellier, but it was a bail-out for coach Carlo Ancelotti whose side toiled to break down their opponents once more in Ligue 1.

- Report: PSG 1-0 Montpellier
Video: PSG 1-0 Montpellier (US, UK, Ireland ONLY)

The capital club have struggled at times to overcome a number of domestic opponents this season and looked like they were going to be thwarted by Rene Girard's plucky side. However, the Frenchman's goal ensured that PSG start preparing for Tuesday's vital Champions League clash with Barcelona a provisional eight points clear of second placed Lyon, when in reality the players' minds already seemed to be on that quarter-final clash.

Gameiro's sixth goal of the season once again demonstrated the depth of talent that Ancelotti has available to him, something that he regularly overlooks, but also got the hosts out of jail. Whilst a victory at the Parc des Princes would have flattered La Paillade, the visitors looked more spritely, more purposeful and full of ideas for large chunks of the game. Remy Cabella and Younes Belhanda looked particularly vibrant, with the former going close on a number of occasions. PSG on the other hand though looked frustrated and lethargic, with a number of players off-colour in comparison to their normal standards.

Looking surprisingly off the pace was Thiago Silva who misplaced a number of passes (particularly early on) and lacked the same assuredness that he usually provides as captain, the same was true of Maxwell who looked uncharacteristically disinterested. As so often has been the case this season, PSG's failure to convert early chances often results in a malaise setting in over the players. They appear to play within themselves, almost saving themselves for another match, which is what happened after Clement Chantome’s early missed chance. Though that is not true for all members of the team on the night, the performance appeared soulless at times.

Blaise Matuidi who could have been forgiven for appearing jaded thanks to a full schedule of international football with France, appears to be embracing his indispensability for club and country with consummate ease. His steady, solid yet untaxed performance alongside the impressive Marco Verratti was undone only by Ancelotti's insistence on playing Chantome on the right with Javier Pastore on the left. The Argentine is no winger and the Frenchman too is wasted on the flank, though Chantome's performance at least was effective despite the early miss.

It was when Jeremy Menez moved to the right after David Beckham and Gameiro were introduced to the fray that PSG started to look more dangerous. Beckham contributed a number of good passes and had a hand (not a direct assist) in the build-up for the goal. Zlatan Ibrahimovic who had cut a frustrated figure for most of the evening benefitted from Ancelotti's surprise substitution (considering his usual stubbornness in selection), Gameiro's presence stretched the defence and allowed the Swede the time to create the solitary strike nine minutes from time with a neat cut-back across goal.

A player who should take heed from Gameiro’s situation and be patient for his chance to impress is centre-back Mamadou Sakho who once more found himself on the bench with Alex favoured ahead of him. The Brazilian looked more assured than in his previous outing in Saint-Etienne, so further talking on the pitch when the opportunity next presents itself has to back up the Frenchman's recent comments regarding his future. Gregory Van der Wiel also took his opportunity in the first team, putting in an encouraging performance from right back that included a superb flying block to prevent a certain Montpellier goal.

"Perhaps I should play Gameiro more often," was Ancelotti's take on the 25-year-old's contribution post-match, and on this evidence he should. The Italian doesn't necessarily have to start the Frenchman on Tuesday against Barcelona, but if he selected the former Lorient man more often from the start, he would no doubt have bettered a goal tally that currently stands at six goals in 19 appearances (three goals as a substitute) and alleviated some of the pressure on the likes of Ibrahimovic in certain league matches or after the international break.

More importantly than any potential Gameiro revival though is the fact that PSG won the match. Heading into the clash with Barcelona that was all that was needed, and though it was not comfortable, the capital club find themselves eight points clear, putting the pressure directly on Lyon. The match was the first in a series of potential make-or-break games for Les Parisiens this month and they need to be won at all costs, one down and next up are Barcelona. Crucially with the result, Ancelotti's side can prepare for Tuesday without the added pressure of a poor result shrinking the gap between the top three once again.

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