Paris Saint-Germain were 60 seconds from their first defeat of the season on Sunday before a desperate equalizer from Blaise Matuidi salvaged a 2-2 draw at AS Saint-Etienne and kept them top of Ligue 1.
In a match full of drama and controversy, Saint-Etienne threw away a 2-0 second-half lead, albeit hindered by a red card which allowed Laurent Blanc’s men back in the match.
The point allowed PSG to cling to top spot as they lead AS Monaco on goal-difference after Claudio Ranieri’s side defeated Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 earlier in the day.
“It was a difficult evening for Paris and an intense match, but I enjoyed myself regardless,” Blanc said. “PSG have to understand that we are going to come up against very good, organized teams and we were in a great stadium tonight. We gave them two goals which were terrible defensive mistakes and we were punished. I thought we were average and Saint-Etienne fully deserved at least a point.”
Midfielder Benjamin Corgnet opened the scoring after just 18 minutes when he took advantage of a missed clearance by Brazilian centerback Marquinhos to crash the ball past a static Salvatore Sirigu in the PSG goal.
The visitors failed to convert their dominance of possession as they chased an equalizer and fell further behind in comical circumstances six minutes after the break.
Sirigu came out of his goal to collect a cross, but tangled with his own defender Alex, which allowed Romain Hamouma to clip the ball into an empty goal.
It was the first time since March that PSG had conceded two goals in a league match — ironically against the same opposition — but the turning point occurred on 59 minutes when Fabien Lemoine tangled with Ezequiel Lavezzi, who elbowed him in the face leaving him covered in blood.
Referee Ruddy Buquet saw the incident differently and sent off the furious Frenchman, who may have been dismissed for dissent in the heat of the moment.
The red card swung the momentum in favor of Blanc’s men and when Edinson Cavani stabbed the ball home from close range after a good pass from Brazilian defender Maxwell, the comeback was half completed.
However, stubborn defending by Saint-Etienne and some rousing support almost inspired Christophe Galtier’s Coupe de la Ligue holders to victory, but with seconds remaining a looping ball into the penalty area from Matuidi eluded Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier and bounced into the net.
Earlier at the Stade Louis II, Ligue 1’s top scorer Radamel Falcao found the target for the first time in four matches as he helped Monaco defeat Lyon 2-1.
The former Atletico Madrid striker chipped Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes in the 36th minute following Mounir Obbadi’s 28th-minute opener as Claudio Ranieri’s men extended their unbeaten run to seven wins and four draws.
French striker Bafetimbi Gomis gave the visitors hope with 28 minutes left when he powered home a close-range header, but it was not enough.
“It was important for Falcao to score, and when he scores Monaco usually win and we have to win all our matches if we want to stay at the top,” Monaco’s Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho said.
Earlier on Sunday, Girondins de Bordeaux rode two late goals from Mali international Cheikh Diabate and Polish winger Ludovic Obraniak to defeat Montpellier Herault 2-0.