Paris Saint-Germain 2 Nice 2: Cavani double spares champions´ blushes
Paris Saint-Germain pulled off a second-half comeback as they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with title rivals Nice and avoid a second consecutive Ligue 1 defeat.
The champions looked set to lose at Parc des Princes for the first time since March after Nice went 2-0 up through goals from Wylan Cyprien and Alassane Plea, but Unai Emery’s side turned the game on its head after half-time.
Edinson Cavani scored twice inside the first 15 minutes of the second half to restore parity and PSG appeared poised to go on and win the game, but Lucien Favre’s side settled the game down and ground out a point that takes them to the top of the Ligue 1 table.
The result will do little to ease the pressure on Emery, who badly needed a win to silence the criticisms levelled at his side following a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Montpellier in their last Ligue 1 outing and a 2-2 draw with Ludogorets in the Champions League.
While victory helped Nice leapfrog Monaco at the top of the table, PSG trail the leaders by four points and are lacking the consistency and swagger that saw them cruise to the title last season.
The ever-dangerous Serge Aurier created an early chance when he burst down the right flank and switched the ball to Layvin Kurzawa who thundered a shot goalwards but Yoan Cardinale was equal to it, saving low to his right.
Kurzawa was the champions’ most effective attacking outlet and he jinked his way down the left wing before delivering a cross that Cavani would have scored from had Cardinale not been alert to the danger.
But all PSG’s good early work was undone in a moment of brilliant from Cyprien, who curled an exquisite 25-yard free-kick beyond Alphonse Areola and into the net after 32 minutes.
Marco Verratti presented Cavani with a chance to equalise with a superb pass into the penalty area, but the Uruguayan miscued and Nice doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Marquinhos and Thiago Silva failed to deal with Dalbert’s cross and Plea stroked home an easy finish.
It took PSG just one minute of the second half to reduce the deficit, and the unmarked Cavani could hardly miss when Aurier’s cross provided him with the easiest of volleys into the net from point-blank range.
Ricardo Pereira created a good chance for Cyprien, who blazed a shot from the edge of the box over the crossbar and Nice were made to rue his miss when Cardinale parried Kurzawa’s cross into the shoulder of Dante, leaving Cavani with the simple task of rolling the ball over the line to make it 2-2.
Cavani thought he had scored a hat-trick when he side-footed Blaise Matuidi’s cross into the net, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Favre sent on Mario Balotelli as he tried to swing the game back in Nice’s favour, but it was PSG who created the best chance of the closing stages.
Cardinale made amends for his earlier error with a tremendous one-handed save from Kurzawa that kept the scores level in the dying seconds and ensured Nice their place at the Ligue 1 summit.
Key Opta stats:
– PSG are unbeaten in their last seven home games v Nice in Ligue 1 (W5 D2), their best run against this opponent.
– Cavani has scored 16 goals in Ligue 1 this season, more than any other player in European football’s top five leagues.
– Nice are unbeaten in their last five Ligue 1 games (W3 D2), only Monaco (8) are currently in a better run.
– Serge Aurier has been involved in a goal for the first time since last August v Monaco (1 assist).
– Plea is the first Nice player to score at least 10 goals after 17 games in a Ligue 1 season since 2002-03.