PSG keep title race tight
Auxerre missed out on the opportunity to ease clear of their title rivals at the top of the Ligue 1 table as they were held 1-1 by a battling Paris Saint-Germain side on Sunday.
Sunday 4 April 2010
AJ Auxerre / Paris Saint-Germain : 1 - 1
Jean Fernandez’s men appeared to have provided the platform for a fifth successive home win, which would have lifted them two points clear at the summit, when Daniel Niculae gave them an 11th-minute lead, but Younousse Sankharé levelled barely five minutes later to earn PSG a deserved share of the spoils in a nip-and-tuck affair at the Stade Abbé Deschamps.
PSG's recent French Cup penalty shoot-out win in Burgundy - in a stadium shorn of supporters as a consequence of the club from the capital's off-field problems - had left a bitter taste among the locals, and the hosts' determination to avenge that defeat was tangible from kick-off.
Niculae had already sent a point-blank header straight at Apoula Edel before a brilliant collective move was matched by an equally eye-catching individual finish from the Romanian international. A sweeping ball sent Ireneusz Jelen racing down the left, and the Pole flicked an inswinging cross into Niculae's path - one piece of perfect chest control and a clinically-executed volley later and Auxerre were in front.
Despite the early blow, PSG kept their own tempo high, and Olivier Sorin was forced to rush from his line to smother with Mevlut Erding lurking. The move saw the Turkish international's momentum send him hurtling into a post, but the ex-Sochaux man would recover quickly enough to help bring his team level.
When Guillaume Hoarau crossed, Erding turned smartly to fire goalwards, and though Sorin parried his shot, the loose ball dropped for Sankharé to scramble home.
The visitors could have found themselves chasing the game once again soon after when Mamadou Sakho dithered and Dennis Oliech robbed him of the ball. The Kenyan international opted to shoot, but failed to hit the target - a pass to the better-placed and unmarked Jelen would surely have brought greater reward.
PSG, though, continued to create the better openings with Erding particularly incisive. When Sorin parried a powerful low shot from the PSG forward, his cross was then headed wide by Sankharé, and Erding himself should have put his team in front just before the break having escaped his marker at a corner, but he failed to hit the target with a near-post header.
The attacking enterprise shown by both sides in the opening 45 minutes gave way to more guarded tactics after the break as the pair looked to assure themselves of taking something from the game.
The withdrawal of Erding from the proceedings with 20 minutes left signalled the end of the visitors’ attacking intent while Auxerre could only muster a limited threat – Jelen firing over their only clear-cut opportunity of the second half following Niculae’s intelligent knockdown.
The most explosive piece of action occurred off the pitch with feisty PSG coach Antoine Kombouaré sent from the dugout in the dying minutes by referee Philippe Kalt, and the ex-Valenciennes boss had to watch from the players’ tunnel as his team picked up a deserved point to extend their unbeaten run to three games in all competitions.