PSG held 1-1 by Anderlecht in Champs League
PARIS (AP) — Coach Laurent Blanc lamented his side’s missed opportunities as Paris Saint-Germain squandered an early chance to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League after eking out a 1-1 draw at home to Anderlecht on Tuesday.
PSG crushed Anderlecht 5-0 two weeks ago, but this time needed an equalizer from Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the visitors took the lead against the run of play midway through the second half.
Despite playing the last 10 minutes with an extra player after Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan was sent off, PSG failed to break down a resilient Belgian side.
“Before talking about victory and how many goals you’re going to score, you have to win the match,” Blanc said. “We were too average, including in front of goal because we missed six or seven chances. It’s a good wake up call.”
Attacking midfielder Demy de Zeeuw gave the visitors the lead in the 68th minute after a quick counterattack, but Ibrahimovic leveled just two minutes later.
“Technically we made a lot of mistakes, which hasn’t happened to us for a while,” Blanc said. “What irritates me a bit is that Anderlecht scored with practically their first chance. We were far too passive.”
PSG has 10 points in Group C and second-place Olympiakos has seven after beating Benfica 1-0.
Although PSG is unbeaten in 32 matches — the last loss was away to Reims on March 2 — this was one of its poorest performances this season.
Kljestan, who set up Anderlecht’s goal, was sent off in the 82nd after earning a second yellow card for a deliberate handball. Even PSG looked panicky in possession and lacked the composure to make better use of the extra man.
“I think we did very well in defense and closed all the gaps we left in the first game,” Anderlecht coach John Van den Brom said. “We learned from our mistakes in the first game and they didn’t take their chances.”
Many observers had expected another rout.
“I wasn’t expecting this much, but it’s a very nice surprise,” Van den Brom said. “I’m very proud of my players because they’ve put up with a lot of criticism recently.”
PSG started brightly enough.
Midfielder Marco Verratti’s pass cleared the Anderlecht defense and Ezequiel Lavezzi’s looping header went just over the crossbar. Lavezzi had another chance moments later when Ibrahimovic’s deflected pass fell to him near the penalty spot. Ibrahimovic then sent a powerful shot over the top.
“If it had been 2-0 after 20 minutes, no one would have been surprised,” Blanc said. “But that wasn’t the case because we didn’t take our chances. If we hadn’t scored within five minutes of their goal, we may well have lost.”
Anderlecht played far better this time.
One slick passing move down the right ended with Aleksandar Mitrovic hitting a low shot that goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu saved low to his right.
With the visitors harrying in midfield, PSG had to show patience.
As halftime approached, left back Maxwell found some space and delivered a dangerous cross toward the penalty spot, but center half Cheikhou Kouyate reacted well to intercept.
Lavezzi burst through on goal moments after the restart, and midfielder Luka Milivojevic was shown a yellow card for tripping him up. Ibrahimovic, who scored four goals in the 5-0 rout, smashed the free kick into the wall.
Anderlecht gained in confidence and began to push forward, but that worked to PSG’s advantage when, in the 53rd, Lavezzi broke down the right and fed the ball to Ibrahimovic in the middle. The Sweden forward expertly let the ball roll across him and then poked it through to Lucas, but the Brazilian’s strike was blocked.
Ibrahimovic had a quiet game by his high standards, but still managed to set up Lucas for a great scoring chance with a lofted pass over the defense. But Lucas continued to show he is a wasteful finisher by blasting wide from 12 yards out.
Then, Anderlecht broke down the left to open the scoring. Kljestan lost his marker to get in behind the defense before pulling the ball back to De Zeeuw, who slotted it under Sirigu’s body.
The goal was Anderlecht’s first in the competition this season, but celebrations were short-lived.
Blaise Matuidi collected the ball on the left of the area and picked out Ibrahimovic, who scored on the second attempt after Thomas Kaminski smothered his first effort and the ball hit the post.