PSG maintain title charge
Paris Saint-Germain kept up the pressure on Lille at the top of the table with a narrow 2-1 win over Sochaux at the Parc des Princes.
Saturday, 15 January
Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Sochaux
Antoine Kombouaré’s side had to come from behind to beat a Sochaux side who had not won in the capital for over two decades. Modibo Maïga had headed the visitors in front, but PSG soon turned things around thanks to a Mamadou Sakho close-range finish and a Ludovic Giuly strike on the break, as the hosts stay within a point of top spot.
It was after losing at Sochaux in late August that PSG really kick-started their campaign. Following their 3-1 reverse at the Stade Bonal, Kombouaré’s side were beaten just twice more in Ligue 1 before the winter break. One of those losses came at Nancy in week nineteen, but they returned to form by hammering Lens in the French Cup last time out, and few expected anything other than a home victory here against Francis Gillot’s men. After all, their miserable record in this particular fixture apart, Sochaux had also managed just one win and a paltry four points in their nine away games before tonight, the worst away record in the top-flight apart from that of bottom side Arles-Avignon.
However, with PSG forced into a defensive reshuffle due to the absences through injury of Marcos Ceará and Siaka Tiéné, there was a surprise in store early on. Sochaux, who travelled from eastern France on the TGV, got off to a quick start, silencing a boisterous Parc des Princes by opening the scoring on fourteen minutes. Marvin Martin is the division’s leading assist provider, coming into the evening with eight, and he was at it again here, with a corner that was headed home by the towering Maïga, for his seventh goal of an impressive season.
Just two minutes later, though, the home fans were able to breathe a huge collective sigh of relief when Nenê’s corner was headed down at the back post by Camara and Sakho turned the ball in to restore parity.
Sylvain Armand was back in his old position of left-back, and it was from there that he made Paris’ second goal midway through the opening period. The former Nantes man sent in a long diagonal ball which missed the offside Guillaume Hoarau, but found Giuly, making a trademark sprint from the right. He kept his cool to finish low past Pierrick Cros.
Sochaux were now up against it, but Cros did redeem himself with a fine save to deny Nenê shortly before the interval. The Brazilian was practically unplayable in the first-half of the campaign, netting thirteen league goals. History suggests that he struggles to keep up such goalscoring form in the second-half of a season, but luckily Paris did not need him to come to the rescue on this occasion.
They were also able to take the points despite another frustrating night in front of goal for Mevlut Erding. The Turkish international netted a hat-trick against his old club in this fixture last season, but he came into this game with just four strikes to his name, and was once again out of luck.
The two first-half goals proved enough for Paris, although there were one or two nervy moments after the interval, notably when Brown Ideye narrowly missed with a long-range attempt to catch Apoula Edel off his line.
PSG are still chasing glory on four fronts, and this 2-1 victory sets Kombouaré’s side up perfectly for Tuesday’s Coupe de la Ligue semi-final away to Montpellier.