Paris left to fly the flag
PSG are the only French club left in the Europa League after ten-man Lille crashed out with a 5-3 aggregate loss to PSV in Eindhoven. PSG’s 2-2 aggregate win over BATE Borisov booked them a place in the last 16 against Benfica.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
UEFA Europa League Round of 32, return leg
Paris Saint-Germain v BATE Borisov: 0 - 0 (2 - 2)
Although Paris celebrated their 150th appearance in European competition with a qualification for the last 16 of the Europa League, the 0-0 draw with BATE Borisov was far from convincing and the men from the capital will need to do much better when they face Benfica in a few weeks time.
Coach Antoine Kombouaré rested a host of first-team regulars for the fixture and it showed as, without Nene’s incisive runs and crosses from wide positions, and with a Mathieu Bodmer unused to the responsibility of running the midfield, PSG failed to capitalise on a host of chances, even after the late introduction of Guillaume Hoarau.
The Parisians did manage to dominate possession but rarely threatened as Peguy Luyindula, Mevlut Erding and in particular youngster Jean-Eudes Maurice all struggled to get the better of BATE ’keeper Aliaksandr Gutor, whose excellent night between the sticks gave his forwards the basis on which to continue to push for the away goal that would have changed everything.
Luckily for PSG, Apoula Edel was also in fine form, saving BATE’s best chance of the game from point-blank range after a defensive howler from a below-par Zoumana Camara in the 68th minute, and Kombouaré's men managed to hold out for the precious result.
PSV Eindhoven v Lille: 3 - 1 (5 - 3)
Lille coach Rudi Garcia was circumspect before their last-32 return leg in Eindhoven, once again having picked a starting line-up missing big names like Gervinho, Florent Balmont and Eden Hazard, believing that his ‘B’-team could surmount PSV’s away-goal advantage, but in the end things turned out worse than he might have imagined on Thursday night.
Although his side opened the scoring when Pierre-Alain Frau latched onto a Tulio De Melo flick-on and raced between two PSV defenders to fire between the legs of former Rennes ’keeper Andreas Isaksson (22’), things turned on their head early in the second half.
Just minutes after Balazs Dzsudzsak looped in a quickly taken free-kick (54’), Frau turned from hero to villain as he saw red for a second bookable offence, with Garcia so angered by the decision that he also earned himself a red card and had to watch the rest of the match from the stands.
Out of reach
With the aggregate score on 3-3, Lille needed just a single goal to qualify but the dream drifted further and further away as PSV poured forward and laid on two more goals in rapid succession (Jeremain Lens, 67’, Marcelo, 73’) to wrap up the tie 5-3 and send the French league leaders crashing out of Europe.
Garcia and co. will now turn their attention back to domestic matters, where a league clash with Lyon looms on Sunday before they take on Lorient in the Coupe de France in mid-week.