PSG charge slowed by Guingamp
Paris Saint-Germain needed a late Alex equaliser to earn a point from a 1-1 draw with EA Guingamp at the Stade du Roudourou on Saturday.
EA Guingamp 1 - 1 Paris Saint-Germain
Guingamp looked set to beat PSG in front of their own fans for the first time since February 2003 when Mustapha Yatabaré headed home his sixth Ligue 1 goal of the season with just six minutes to go. However, Alex rose to head in a corner in the 87th minute to put the defending champions provisionally six points clear at the summit before nearest challengers Monaco host Marseille on Sunday.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc was eager for his team to get back on track after their surprise exit from the Coupe de France at the hands of Montpellier in midweek but he was without skipper Thiago Silva due to an ankle problem here. That meant Marquinhos came into the middle of the defence while Zlatan Ibrahimovic wore the captain's armband.
Meanwhile, Javier Pastore started on the left of the attack in the absence of Ezequiel Lavezzi. For Guingamp, who needed extra time to win at Brittany neighbours Concarneau in the Cup, there was just a second league start of the season for Rachid Alioui as Jocelyn Gourvennec's team sought to improve on a record of just three goals scored in their last ten Ligue 1 outings.
At a packed Stade du Roudourou it was Guingamp who threatened first via the lively 21-year-old Alioui, whose terrific strike on the volley flashed just wide of Salvatore Sirigu's far post. And the same player was desperately unlucky not to score in stoppage time right at the end of the first half when his long-range free-kick moved and swerved in the air and Sirigu touched it with his knee onto the underside of the bar.
In between, the capital club enjoyed plenty of possession but struggled to get in behind the home defence. Edinson Cavani had one shot blocked inside the area, and Ibrahimovic tried his luck from fully 40 yards only for Guy Roland Ndy Assembé to push the Swede's strike around the post.
Flat in front of goal
The wind picked up and the rain began to fall as the first half went on, but Paris defied the conditions to start brightly after the restart. Cavani had the ball in the net in the 52nd minute as he poked home a delightful ball over the top by Thiago Motta, but he was correctly flagged offside, and moments later another Ibrahimovic shot was easily saved.
PSG had gone 39 Ligue 1 games without being involved in a goalless draw but, six days after putting five past Nantes, they appeared rather flat in front of goal. The hosts' own goalscoring problems were clear to see, though, and Thibault Giresse volleyed over when presented with a good chance 18 yards out.
However, Gourvennec's decision to send on striker Mana Dembélé, signed this month from Clermont in Ligue 2, for his debut for the final 11 minutes in place of Giresse, lifted the crowd. And Guingamp went on to take the lead in the 84th minute when Yatabaré headed home his sixth league goal of the campaign, and first since early October.
It was not enough to win the match, however, as Alex beat Ndy Assembé to a corner at the other end to head in and earn Paris a share of the spoils. Guingamp then had to survive a late onslaught from the visitors just to take a point, and the result was greeted with delight by the home support at the finish.