Giroud secures dramatic PSG draw
By S. Willis
Despite playing most of the second half with ten men after Cyril Jeunechamp saw red, Montpellier fought back from two goals down to secure a dramatic 2-2 with PSG thanks to a brace from top scorer Olivier Giroud.
Three days after Benfica came back from a goal down to beat the Parisians 2-1 in the Europa League, a visibly fatigued PSG couldn’t hold off the powerful Olivier Giroud, who single-handedly secured the result that sees Montpellier keep their hopes of a European place alive.
PSG did start the brighter of the two sides and went ahead early as towering striker Guillaume Hoarau, rested for the game in Lisbon in midweek, rose highest to head home Nene’s cross from the left, the Brazilian having made the most of the referee’s inadvertent back-heel pass in the middle of the pitch (11’).
Two minutes later and the hosts were two goals up, the dangerous Mevlut Erding applying enough pressure from a Ludovic Giuly cross to force Montpellier defender Mapou Yangambiwa to turn the ball in to his own net (13’).
While Paris had benefited from good fortune with both of their goals, they managed to keep Montpellier at bay for the rest of the first half as Claude Makelele and Jérémy Clément consummately patrolled the middle of the park.
The second half was a different story, however, as Montpellier came out swinging and got back into the game with just two minutes gone. Set pieces have been a key ingredient in Montpellier’s success under René Girard and Sunday night was no different, with Younes Belhanda’s free kick from the left perfectly finding the hulking figure of Giroud, who headed powerfully home (47’).
Although they had to play most of the second half with ten men after Cyril Jeunechamp’s rant at the referee’s assistant earned him a second yellow card (49’), Montpellier’s grit and determination made light of their numerical disadvantage and Giroud wasn’t long in troubling the scorekeepers again.
Giroud at the double
After PSG ’keeper Apoula Edel had fisted clear a Montpellier corner, visiting captain Romain Pitau found Giroud in the area, and with the PSG defence strangely hanging off the south-coast hitman, he had all the time he needed to take aim and fire an angled shot past Edel (58’) for his ninth of the season.
A flagging PSG did what they could in search of a winner but were unable to construct much in the way of meaningful passages of play, most notably through key midfielder Nene, who was well below par as he repeatedly lost possession and misfired with his crosses from wide positions.
Whatever half-chances Paris managed to put together met with the vigilance of Geoffrey Jourdren, the Montpellier ’keeper having a great night between the sticks, notably when he denied substitute Jean-Christo Bahebeck’s header from point-blank range in the dying seconds of injury time (90’+2).
Big week ahead for PSG
The result sees Montpellier leapfrog Saint-Etienne into sixth place, six points behind fifth-placed PSG, who could have stayed within a point of Marseille and Lyon with a win. Doubtless Kombouaré will be worried by his men’s lack of sharpness as they head into a week that sees them looking to turn their Europa League last-16 tie with Benfica around before making the trip to Marseille for the Clasico on Sunday.