PSG survive VAFC scare to go top
PSG moved to the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday after coming back from two goals down to beat Valenciennes FC 4-3 in a thriller in the north of France.
Valenciennes FC 3 - 4 Paris Saint-Germain
Valenciennes have claimed some notable scalps at home this season with Montpellier, Marseille and Lille all coming off second best at the Stade de Hainaut but nothing would have prepared PSG for what unfolded on Sunday night. The capital club found themselves two down inside 15 minutes but then dug deep to ultimately emerge victorious.
VAFC set out their stall from the off and were rewarded for their enterprise after just six minutes, Vincent Aboubakar silencing the travelling support with the opening goal which took a slight deflection off Brazilian defender Alex. One then became two three minutes later, again Aboubaker made a nuisance of himself this time shrugging off Maxwell before letting fire. Salvatore Sirigu blocked the shot; the ball then fell at the feet of Rémi Gomis who turned it in to leave PSG with the proverbial mountain to climb (11').
With Montpellier playing on Monday, the Parisians could ill afford to consider the possibility of the leaders opening up a six point lead and to their credit they hit back almost immediately. Rudy Mater was generous to the visitors' cause when he sent his clearance only as far as Jérémy Ménez. The former Roma winger needed no second invitation and slammed the ball past Nicolas Penneteau to reduce the defecit (14').
The momentum now swung PSG's way and Ménez was very much to the fore. Midway through the half he tested Penneteau with a free kick and then five minutes before half time he sent Nene clear. The Brazilian then released his compatriot Maxwell who made up for his earlier sloppy defending by stroking home the equaliser (40').
This time it was the home fans who were left speechless and their incredulity grew as the visitors struck once more just before half time. Javier Pastore was the creator with a lovely ball through for Blaise Matuidi. The former Saint-Etienne midfielder did the rest as PSG completed a remarkable turnaround to lead the interval (45').
Ménez seals the deal
It was always going to be difficult for the second half to live up to the first in terms of goalmouth action. PSG dominated the territory and possession and were goof value for the fourth when it came. Once again Pastore and Nene caused no end of problems in the VAFC defence and after a good run from the latter, Ménez finished things off with his second of the match and eighth of the season (58').
Valenciennes were by now understandable deflated. Their best chance came 11 minutes later but Sirigu was equal to Colombian international Carlos Sanchez's long range free kick (69').
With PSG happy to sit on their two goal cushion VAFC's best hope of getting back into the game looked to be from set pieces and with 10 mintes to go their resilience paid off. Renaud Cohade's free-kick cannoned of the inside of the post to set up an intriguing finale as Valenciennes joined Marseille and Lyon as the only sides to have scored three goals against PSG in the league this season.
Try as they might the hosts couldn't find a way through as PSG closed out the match after four nervy minutes of stoppage time. The win sees PSG go top of the table with two games to go. Carlo Ancelotti's side lead Montpellier, who play Stade Rennais on Monday night, on goal difference.
Should the southerners drop points against Rennes then PSG could be considered favourites for the title given their slightly easier run-in. Ménez. Pastore et al. finish their campaign against Rennes and Lorient while Montpellier still have to play defending champions Lille before they close their season against Auxerre. But if the last few weeks have taught us anything it is that Ligue 1 is more unpredictable than ever before.