Sochaux postpone PSG title celebrations with vital point
By S. Telford
PSG will have to wait another at least until Wednesday before celebrating the Ligue 1 title after Sochaux snatched a 1-1 draw at the Stade Auguste Bonal. Edinson Cavani (25') and Thiago Silva (OG, 56') got the goals.
FC Sochaux-Montbéliard 1 - 1 Paris Saint-Germain
Not happy with his side's performance in scraping past Evian-Thonon-Gaillard 1-0 in Wednesday's rescheduled clash, Laurent Blanc made five changes to his team, with Blaise Matuidi - who got the last minute winner from the bench last time out - restored to the starting line-up alongside Brazilian-born quartet Lucas Moura, Thiago Motta, Maxwell and Alex. Reasoning that 'everyone gets PSG at some stage' this season, Hervé Renard stuck with the same balanced 4-2-3-1 who kept their survival hopes alive with a 1-0 win at Stade de Reims last Sunday.
Sochaux struggled to get to grips with the league leaders through the middle despite their numbers in midfield though, and they were given a quick-fire double-warning early on. Cavani robbed Stoppila Sunzu of possession on the edge of the FCSM box and blasted towards goal, but a smart reaction save from Yohann Pelé kept him out (19'). Lucas won the header from the resulting corner, only to see Julien Faussurier clear his effort off the line (20').
Six years ago an Amara Diané brace helped PSG maintain their own Ligue 1 status with a 2-1 win at the Stade Auguste Bonal, but the two clubs' respective fortunes have long since changed, and PSG found themselves a goal to the good soon after. Ivorian Diané cost the capital club 3 million euros from RC Strasbourg in the summer of 2005. The man leading the line here in the absence of injured top goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cavani, cost over 20 times that fee and he was utterly clinical in grabbing his 16th of the season. Motta chipped the ball through to Cavani and the Uruguayan striker did well to stay onside before controlling on his chest and volleying home an unstoppable effort for 1-0 (25').
5-0 winners in the reverse fixture at the Parc des Princes in December, PSG could have pulled further in front when another route one pass, this time from Maxwell, found Lavezzi in space, but the Argentine should really have done better than to lift the ball high over the frame of the goal with Pelé bearing down on him (31'). Sochaux could have made them pay on the stroke of half-time when Jordan Ayew headed down for Sébastien Roudet in the box, but a stunning close-range stop from Sirigu kept the hosts at bay (45').
Sochaux battle back
Sochaux, undefeated in four coming into this game, began the second half brightly, and were back on level terms soon after the restart. Ayew did well to hold the ball up and wait on the overlap from Florian Marange, the left-back whipped in a wicked cross, and Sirigu's save travelled only as far as captain Thiago Silva's back before creeping into the far corner to make it 1-1 (56'). Les Lionceaux had their tails up, and when Roudet chipped for Sanjin Prcić soon after Sirigu was relieved to see the Bosnian's volley fly wide (61'). A whirlwind ten minutes ended with PSG biting back, with Lucas firing just wide from outside the box before Marco Verratti, having replaced Yohan Cabaye only minutes before, somehow failing to open his PSG account when one-on-one with the goalkeeper after a fine square ball from Van der Wiel (64').
Already dependant on other results in order to avoid a return to Ligue 2 for the first time since the turn of the millennium, Sochaux went for broke in the final 20 minutes, with seven-goal top scorer Cédric Bakambu coming on for Roy Countout (71'). PSG felt his impact immediately, and Sochaux were desperately unlucky not to take the lead when the hulking striker failed to get on the end of Ayew's ball across the face of goal with the champions grossly undermanned at the back (72'). At the other end Cavani had the chance to double his tally but after cutting inside Cédric Kanté the Uruguayan saw his curling effort sail wide of the far post (74').
Javier Pastore (85') and Sébastien Corchia (90+2') both had chances to snatch all three points at the death but both were frustrated and the match ended 1-1 with each team wondering how the scoreline was kept to just two goals. PSG can seal the defence of their title on home turf against Stade Rennais a week on Wednesday, while Sochaux can approach their run-in against OGC Nice, Rennes and Evian with confidence, if not points, on their side.