Erding to the double in PSG win
Mevlut Erding netted twice as Paris Saint-Germain survived a second-half fightback from Arles-Avignon to claim a 2-1 win that keeps the pressure on league leaders Lille.
Saturday, 29 January
After their Coupe de la Ligue semi-final defeat at Montpellier and a narrow French Cup win at lower-league Agen, PSG were back in action in the south of France for the third time in eleven days as they took to the field against Arles-Avignon at the Parc des Sports.
Anotine Kombouaré’s men had beaten the Ligue 1 whipping boys 4-0 when the sides met at the Parc des Princes in September, and they were under pressure to record another victory here to keep up with leaders Lille, who began the day four points better off.
Down to the bare bones
PSG were without Guillaume Hoarau, Jérémy Clément and Clément Chantôme, and with Stéphane Sessegnon finally on his way out of the club after Sunderland tied up a €7 million deal to sign the Benin international, Kombouaré was down to the bare bones for the clash with an Arles side that had managed just one win an all competitions this season coming into the weekend.
However, there is enough depth in the capital side’s squad to cope with these losses, and Mevlut Erding stepped up to the plate here, ending a dry patch in front of goal with a double to take his tally for the season to six and allow Paris to remain on Lille’s coat tails.
The visitors began well, and Ludovic Giuly was denied by Cyrille Merville before Erding opened the scoring on 17 minutes. The Turkish international got in behind the home defence before clipping a shot over Merville that went into the net off the far post.
That goal left the hosts facing an uphill struggle already and, as heavy rain made for difficult playing conditions, Paris held out comfortably until half-time before appearing to kill the game off with within four minutes of the restart. This time, Erding dropped deep and flicked a ball into the path of Giuly, before meeting the former Barcelona man’s return ball with a first time finish across the ‘keeper and into the far corner.
However, the remainder of the match was far from plain sailing for PSG. First, Claude Makelele was forced off injured to be replaced by Zoumana Camara, and then Arles-Avignon reduced the deficit thanks to a fine strike from Deme Ndiaye.
There may have been question marks about the defending, as the Senegalese midfielder was all alone on the left of the penalty box when he was picked out by Thomas Ayasse, but there was no doubting the finish, as his first-time left-foot volley gave Apoula Edel in goal no chance.
The home side battled hard in a bid to find an equalising goal, but the closest they came was in the last minute when substitute Gaël Germany’s shot from distance was beaten out by Edel before Mamadou Sakho cleared any lingering danger.
His side may have been hanging on at the end, but with fellow title hopefuls Rennes and Lyon slipping up on their travels, Kombouaré can be delighted with this 2-1 win. Paris will be back in the south in midweek when they continue their French Cup defence at Martigues.