PSG held to another draw in French league
Sep. 27, 2014
PARIS (AP) — After a disappointing 1-1 draw away to Toulouse on Saturday, Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc acknowledged his team needs to vastly improve for the upcoming Champions League clash with Barcelona.
PSG's defensive frailties were exposed again in a fifth draw in eight league matches.
"We've had a difficult start to the season. We've got the same team and the same coach as last season but we're not winning matches as easily. At the moment, we're not better than the others," Blanc said. "We have to acknowledge that the first half was very average, we really helped them with their goal."
PSG fell behind in the eighth minute to a goal by forward Wissam Ben Yedder but equalized in the 33rd through forward Jean-Christophe Bahebeck, who replaced the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack.
Right back Serge Aurier, who almost gave away a late goal in last Sunday's 1-1 home draw with Lyon, was at fault for the goal when his back-pass fell short. Ben Yedder nipped in before David Luiz, and beat goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu with a calm finish for his fifth goal of the season.
Bahebeck finished neatly after being released down the right by midfielder Marco Verratti's quick free kick.
Earlier, Nice won 1-0 at Monaco.
The draw moved PSG provisionally up to third place, one point behind Lille, which won 1-0 at home to Bastia thanks to a goal from forward Divock Origi, who is on a season's loan from Liverpool.
Leader Marseille can move five points clear of PSG if it beats Saint-Etienne at home on Sunday. Also on the day, Bordeaux hosts Rennes, Lens faces Caen, and Lyon goes to Nantes.
Blanc rested Ibrahimovic, who missed the midweek 2-0 win at Caen because of a left heel injury. PSG hosts Barcelona on Tuesday and Blanc will need him fully fit.
"We're in a delicate period of games right now, but we still managed to get a draw away from home," Blanc said.
PSG will need to play significantly better, however, to stand a chance against the Spanish league leader. PSG has drawn six out of nine games altogether, including a draw at Ajax in the Champions League.
Toulouse could have been 2-0 up after 20 minutes when Ben Yedder set up Serbian defender Pavle Ninkov, whose low shot was saved by Sirigu. Countryman Aleksandar Pesic missed the target from the rebound as PSG escaped.
"We came here to win but unfortunately we started the game badly," PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said. "We will have to raise our level now because we have a big match awaiting us."
With Ibrahimovic absent, Edinson Cavani got another chance to play in his favored center forward's role but made little impact and was replaced by winger Lucas with 20 minutes remaining of an evenly contested second half.
Also, Lorient lost 2-0 at home to Evian; Metz beat Reims 3-0 to provisionally move up to fifth spot thanks to two goals from striker Juan Falcon, and Montpellier won 2-1 against Guingamp with goals from strikers Souleymane Diawara and Victor Hugo Montano.
After midfielder Carlos Eduardo put Nice ahead of Monaco in the seventh minute from a free kick, he almost scored again midway through the half when he was sent clean through by Alassane Plea's neat pass, but defender Andrea Raggi thwarted him with a well-timed tackle.
Monaco had a late goal from midfielder Yannick Ferreira disallowed after striker Dimitar Berbatov strayed offside.
Coach Leonardo Jardim claimed most of the decisions went against Monaco.
"Penalties and offsides are always given against Monaco. I ask for some respect from referees," he said. "As far as I know there isn't a top (French) referee who is recognised at international level."
Berbatov has not scored in his past five games.