Jallet saves point for leaders
By D. Crossan
Paris Saint-Germain scored after the regulation 90 minutes for the fourth game running to salvage a 2-2 draw at Caen. Until substitute Christophe Jallet's volley the leaders looked to be heading for a first defeat of the Carlo Ancelotti era.
PSG’s unbeaten league streak was extended to 13 games as Ancelotti’s side again showed a propensity to play until the final whistle. With Montpellier losing at Nancy, PSG increased their gap at the top to two points despite being well below-par on the night. Jallet’s late strike was a cruel blow for Caen, who would have been worthy winners after an enterprising and committed display. Franck Dumas’ side actually dropped three positions despite the point and will slip into the drop zone should 18th-placed Nice win at Sochaux on Sunday.
PSG formation switch
Ancelotti started the match with a 4-4-2 formation - Kevin Gameiro partnering Guillaume Hoarau upfront for the first time since the Week 1 loss to Lorient - but midway through the opening period reverted to the 4-2-3-1 employed in recent weeks. The move was forced on the Italian as PSG struggled to adapt to the new system and Caen took the game to them, snapping into challenges and using the full width of the pitch.
Pierre-Alain Frau, playing against the club he represented from 2006-2008, struck Salvatore Sirigu’s crossbar in the fourth minute after Livio Nabab chested down Frédéric Bulot’s cross. Three minutes later Nabab, who penned a new two-year deal in midweek, had a fantastic chance of his own. Sirigu half-blocked the first effort but the ball fell again to Nabab, who had just Alex to beat, but the forward miscontrolled on the turn in his haste to get a shot away.
Sirigu was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers and had to be alert to turn a Romain Hamouma curler behind for a corner. It was only in the closing minutes of the half, after Ancelotti’s tactical switch, that PSG threatened. Gameiro, the scorer of the last-gasp winner at Dijon in Week 27, had a shot blocked by Thomas Heurtaux and Guillaume Hoarau later found his path to goal obstructed by the frame of Jerry Vandam.
Frau scores against old club
Beaten 3-0 by Montpellier in Week 27, Caen coach Dumas said anything his side could obtain from the top two clubs would be a bonus. In the 53rd minute Dumas was celebrating as Frau finished off a lightning quick break for his first goal against PSG in his 14th game against them. Hamouma found Nabab on the right and the forward crossed first time for Frau. The former Lille man’s first shot was saved by Sirigu, who could only parry it back into Frau’s path. He made no mistake second time around and scored his sixth of the season.
Within 120 seconds PSG were level in fortuitous circumstances. Javier Pastore dribbled into the box but the ball went beyond his control after a nutmeg on Jérémy Sorbon. Heurtaux tried to clear and the ball bounced back off Pastore and beyond Alexis Thébaux, who was celebrating his 27th birthday.
Caen regrouped and set about attempting to restore their advantage. Bulot had gone close before setting up Caen’s second goal 20 minutes from time as PSG’s frailties in defending set-pieces resurfaced. Bulot’s right-wing corner was headed home with aplomb by Heurtaux, who had risen between Thiago Motta and Alex. The centre-half had also scored in the 4-2 loss at the Parc des Princes earlier in the season and this was the ninth goal in the last 13 conceded by PSG from a set-piece.
Caen sub Fayçal Fajr’s cheeky free-kick five minutes later brushed the outside of the post and the midfielder had Sirigu scrambling across his line to save from another free-kick soon afterwards. PSG, who had brought on Jallet for Hoarau straight after Frau’s opener, were becoming increasingly frustrated.
Then came the late drama. Jallet slipped the ball to Jérémy Ménez on the right. The former Roma man’s cross clipped off Sorbon and into Jallet’s path, although there was still plenty of work to do. Jallet controlled expertly on his chest and fired high beyond a distraught Thébaux.
More late drama
A pulsating match finished with honours even as PSG got themselves out of jail with a late goal yet again. Hoarau saved a point at home to Montpellier in Week 24 in the 88th minute and did the same at Lyon the following week in the 94th minute. Gameiro’s winner at Dijon was clocked at 92 minutes and Jallet’s here at Caen at 91 minutes.
It may not have been a vintage PSG display but they still took something from the game and now have the home Coupe de France quarter-final with Lyon to look forward to on Wednesday night.