Stalemate between PSG and LOSC
By D. Crossan
Paris Saint-Germain and Lille cancelled each other out at the Parc des Princes in a goalless draw of very limited goalmouth incident that left Montpellier on top of the table.
Both Montpellier, who drew 1-1 at home to Toulouse on Saturday, and PSG have 37 points with Montpellier leading the way on goal difference. Lille moved back ahead of Lyon and into third, also on goal difference alone, with both LOSC and OL now on 35 points.
Lille came to the capital with the intention of extending a club record sequence of 15 Ligue 1 matches without defeat and Rudi Garcia's side started the game well, winning the ball high up the pitch and enjoying the greater possession in the opening exchanges.
Late change, tricky conditions
PSG had been forced into a late change to their starting eleven as skipper Mamadou Sakho dropped out injured and was replaced by Zoumana Camara, who partnered Milan Bisevac at centre-half. PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu made the first save of note on the quarter-hour as he tipped over a Florent Balmont strike from 20 metres.
Wet conditions made for a tricky playing service which impacted on the control exerted by the two sides. The undoubted highlight of the half was provided by Javier Pastore. The Argentinian's control took out three defenders and he then scooped a pass in behind Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy for Kevin Gameiro to race onto. The club top scorer took it down on his chest but flashed the shot wide of Mickaël Landreau's near post.
The midfield exchanges were rugged yet the chances were few and far between as the clubs showed why they both featured in the top four defences in the division at the start of play. Space was at a premium for the dangerous attackers ranged on either side.
PSG came out looking more ambitious as Mathieu Bodmer found Pastore only for the 42 million euro man fired wide from the edge of the box. Nene then shot over after a fine dribble by Jérémy Ménez. At the other end Debuchy forced Sirigu into a decent save with a header from a Joe Cole corner and Bisevac did well to deal with a cross from Balmont when two Lille players were queuing up behind the Serb to greet it.
Fifteen minutes from time a goal almost came from an unlikely source as Idrissa Gueye let fly from the edge of the area. The ball was travelling at some velocity but Sirigu, the Italian international goalkeeper, got in behind it. Franck Béria, the Lille left-back, tried his luck as Lille pressed.
On 80 minutes PSG coach Antoine Kombouaré made a double change with Pastore replaced by Sylvain Armand, who slotted in in defensive midfield. The tall Guillaume Hoarau came on for Gameiro and was given support by the rangy Bodmer, who pushed forwards from a deeper role.
Jelen chance late on
LOSC sub Ireneusz Jelen almost won it at the death as he curled one towards the top corner and a flying save by Sirigu further enhanced his stature with the PSG fans, who expressed their disappointment with the overall performance at the final whistle.
Lille are the only one of the top four to enjoy a home game to round out the calendar year as they entertain Nice on Wednesday. PSG are at in-form Saint-Etienne the same evening.
>> Scores Week 18