Paris frustrated by Bölöni’s Lens
By A. Scott
Despite dominating possession throughout at the Parc des Princes, Paris Saint-Germain failed to find a way past Lens, and were forced to settle for a goalless draw that does little for their chances of catching Lille at the top of the table.
After stepping in to replace Jean-Guy Wallemme in the Lens dugout at the turn of the year, Laszlo Bölöni’s first match in charge of Les Sang et Or was a French Cup round-of-64 tie against PSG in the capital, which the holders won 5-1.
Since then, the experienced Romanian had seen his side take seven points from four games, with their only defeat coming at near neighbours Lille. However, with his side still in the relegation zone, and a point from safety, he would have been wary of the size of task awaiting them against a Paris team unbeaten in their last eight home matches in all competitions, and looking forward to running out in front of their own fans after a run of five consecutive away games.
Home coach Antoine Kombouaré was unable to call on the suspended Ludovic Giuly, so Clément Chantôme started on the right wing. Meanwhile, the visitors made two changes to the team that drew with Valenciennes, as Alaeddine Yahia and Serge Aurier came into the defence, and Henri Bedimo and Sébastien Roudet dropped to the bench.
Unable to muster a shot on target
That new-look back four held its own for large parts of the game, although Paris will undoubtedly feel that they should have taken at least one of the chances that fell their way. While Lens were unable to muster a single shot on target over the course of the ninety minutes, the hosts enjoyed over sixty percent of the ball, and a total of seventeen shots at goal.
Claude Makelele was first to test Lens goalkeeper Vedran Runje after a Nenê free-kick had only been partially cleared. Guillaume Hoarau then came mightily close with a trademark header from Siaka Tiéné’s left-wing cross that came back off the woodwork. As Lens appeared incapable of taking the game to PSG, Makelele fired another effort narrowly over, before Mathieu Bodmer was just off-target with a right-footed strike from the edge of the area.
Sylvain Armand was forced off at the interval with a facial injury, to be replaced in the heart of the home defence by Zoumana Camara. However, again most of the action took place at the other end of the field, and Mevlut Erding pounced on a Yahia error before turning the ball towards goal, only for Runje to make a crucial save on his line. The Turkish international then failed to find the target after Hoarau had helped on a Tiéné cross.
Toifilou Maoulida sent a low shot wide for Lens on a rare foray forward by the away side, but PSG were running out of ideas anyway. Apart from a Mamadou Sakho diving header from point-blank range that Runje kept out, Lens were rarely troubled in the closing stages, and held out for a goalless draw as even the introductions of Peguy Luyindula and Jean-Eudes Maurice failed to galvanise Paris.
The point could yet prove invaluable for them, but Lens drop down to second-bottom spot for now due to results elsewhere. Paris slip to third, and could go seven points behind Lille if the leaders win on Sunday.