Paris Saint-Germain once again came unstuck against their bete noire Evian Thonon Gaillard on Friday, being forced to settle for a 0-0 draw after having Yohan Cabaye sent off in their Ligue 1 clash in Annecy, France.
Evian have thwarted PSG at their Parc des Sports in the recent past, knocking the capital club out of the Coupe de France at the quarter-final stage in 2012-2013 season and then winning 2-0 in December last year after Paris had gone 26 games unbeaten.
Nevertheless, the Alpine outfit lost their opening two matches of this campaign, conceding nine goals in the process, including in a 6-2 thumping at Stade Rennais last week. However, they defended doggedly to hold the champions, who were missing talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic and captain Thiago Silva due to injury and have won just one of their opening three league matches after drawing 2-2 at Stade de Reims two weeks ago.
“In other situations there is no doubt we will manage to break teams down. They defended well. It was a reassuring result for them,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc told beIN Sports, before insisting that he was not worried by his team’s failure to win the game.
“Honestly I think that given the way the game went we didn’t do enough to take three points... We expected to have difficulties at the start of the season, especially in August, but I don’t think there is any reason to worry,” he said.
“We had a competitive enough team to win this match,” Blanc added, despite the absences of Ibra, Silva and Gregory van der Wiel.
The PSG boss gave the first starts of the season to France internationals Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi, with Thiago Motta on the bench after a headbutt from Brandao at the end of last week’s win against SC Bastia left him with a fractured nose.
Without Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani was given the opportunity to play in his favored role of central striker and he had the best chances for the visitors. However, his free-kick midway through the first half was tame and went straight into the arms of Evian’s Danish goalkeeper Jesper Hansen.
A defense-splitting pass by Lucas then put Cavani through, but he slipped while attempting to round Hansen and his shot easily blocked.
Lucas fired narrowly wide of the far post early in the second period and the Brazilian then created another opening for Cavani in the 71st minute, but this time the long-haired forward saw his ferocious strike beaten out by Hansen.
Before that, the visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 62nd minute when Cabaye, starting for the first time since an extended post-World Cup holiday, was shown a second yellow card for a second foul on Nicki Bille Nielsen.
With a man less, they lacked the inspiration to break down the determined hosts, although Evian only attempted to snatch victory themselves in the dying minutes.
Salvatore Sirigu had been a virtual spectator all evening, but the Italy goalkeeper was finally called into action in the second minute of stoppage-time to tip a net-bound Nicolas Benezet effort over the bar.
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