PSG go down, but not out
Despite losing 2-1 to Benfica in Lisbon on Thursday night, PSG can take a lot of positives - and Peguy Luyindula’s away goal - into the return leg of their Europa League tie at the Parc des Princes next week.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
UEFA Europa League Round of 16, first leg
SL Benfica - Paris Saint-Germain: 2 - 1
PSG still have everything to play for in the return leg after Antoine Kombouaré’s men - minus six first-team regulars including Claude Makelele, Guillaume Hoarau and Siaka Tiéné - dominated the Portuguese champions on their own turf for the better part of an hour before conceding a late winner.
In an openly attacking match that saw the Parisians relentlessly pushing towards the Benfica goal, the resurgent Peguy Luyindula converted PSG’s early impetus to the scorecard when he lashed the marauding Nene’s deep cross past Roberto (15’).
Unfortunately for the Frenchmen, Turkey striker Mevlut Erding seemed to have left his scoring boots back in France, going close (5’, 56’) as well as seeing his full-stretch effort from yet another Nene cross to the far post cannon off the woodwork (17’).
With their new-look central defensive pairing of veteran Malian Sammy Traoré and Zoumana Camara looking every bit the goods at the rear of their rarely-used 4-1-4-1 formation, PSG should have been three goals to the good at half time, but were made to rue their missed opportunities just before the break.
Against the run of play, Maxi Pereira caught PSG looking for an off-side flag as he raced into the area to chest down Carlos Martins’ defence-splitting chipped ball down before lashing it into the roof of the net (41’).
The hosts drew confidence from their equaliser and pushed forward in the second half, putting PSG on the back foot and finally breaking them down again when Argentine Pablo Aimar concocted a sublime pass through the PSG backline for compatriot Franco Jara, who placed his shot beautifully to beat an Apoula Edel who had already denied Oscar Cardozo with two stunning saves (27’, 31’).
Despite the loss, PSG proved in Lisbon that they have more strength in depth than they have been given credit for, which augurs well as the men from the capital slug it out in three competitions.
Doubtless he will also be comforted to know that he should have his stars available to make the return leg an even tougher test for the tenacious Portuguese champions.