Paris held in Saint-Etienne stalemate
Defence was the order of the day as a new-look PSG line-up drew 0-0 with a 17th-placed Saint-Etienne side happy with a point in their fight to ward off relegation despite having dominated large portions of the match at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Sunday night.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
AS Saint-Etienne / Paris Saint-Germain : 0 - 0
With the French Cup now Paris’ only chance for glory this season, PSG coach Antoine Kombouaré could be forgiven for wanting to spare his star players ahead of the May 1 final against Monaco and fielding a brand-new 4-5-1 formation without the likes of Mevlut Erding, Guillaume Hoarau, Claude Makelele and Stéphane Sessegnon.
The change-up gave Kombouaré a chance to field some new faces and, eager to impress in rare starts, Peguy Luyindula, Mateja Kezman, Younes Sankharé and youngster Granddi Ngoyi gave their all in a lively match.
While the commitment was there, the solid team play that has seen Paris go undefeated in five competitive matches on their way to tenth place and the final of the French Cup was not, and Saint-Etienne took advantage to dominate the opening period.
Like Paris, Saint-Etienne have turned a difficult season around and with just one defeat in their last seven matches, and without a loss at home since November, Les Verts have opened up an eight point gap ahead of 18th-placed Le Mans. But with Le Mans finding some late-season form, notably beating Bordeaux mid-week, Ligue 1 survival is no certainty for Christophe Galtier’s men.
And so it was that Saint-Etienne, unnerved by what a loss could do for their top-flight future, failed to really threaten despite dominating possession against a lively if imprecise Paris side and despite the tireless efforts of six-goal top scorer and France U-21 international striker Emmanuel Rivière and winger Dimitri Payet.
One big chance...
The worst almost came true for Les Verts with just minutes to go as Paris gave a final push. Substitute striker Jean-Eudes Maurice left Senegal international defender Pape Diakhaté in the dust before crossing for Luyindula, who neatly dummied Yohan Benalouane before firing an angled shot that flew just over (87’) in what was the best chance of the match.
While a win for the hosts would have taken them into 16th place ahead of Nice, the point earned form the draw maintains their progress towards safety while for Paris, it seems the match was an important chance for Kombouaré to assess his squad ahead of his side’s biggest match of the season against Monaco at the Stade de France on May 1.