Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – A Mathieu Debuchy own goal earned 10-man Paris Saint-Germain a fortuitous 1-1 draw against a Saint-Etienne side that had the measure of the runaway Ligue 1 leaders for much of Friday’s frantic encounter at the Stade Geoffrey-Guichard.
Former Newcastle forward Remy Cabella struck in the 17th minute to put Saint-Etienne ahead, but he then missed a penalty and with the hosts unable to exploit the sending off of Presnel Kimpembe PSG earned an unlikely draw when Debuchy deflected a shot into his own net in the second minute of injury time.
“The first half was the worst we had played all season,” said PSG coach Unai Emery.
“But I am happy with the way we reacted and for the work that we put in during the second half, we deserved a point.”
PSG turned up knowing that a win and defeat for Monaco 24 hours later against Nantes would hand them the title with six games of the season remaining.
Kylian Mbappe started with Edinson Cavani on the bench, and Neymar no doubt keeping tabs on proceedings from at home in Brazil where he is recovering from an operation on a fractured foot.
In-form Saint Etienne were looking to extend their unbeaten run to 10, and they raced out of the blocks with Cabella’s 17th minute tap-in placing their well-heeled visitors on the back foot.
Cabella top and tailed the move as he fed the ball on the right to Debuchy who produced a dangerous high ball into the box, with Jonathan Bamba missing a header only for Cabella to slot past PSG keeper Alphonse Areola to the delight of the home fans.
Saint-Etienne were then in the 29th minute awarded a questionable penalty when Romain Hamouma hit the deck after minimal contact from Kimpembe, with Layvin Kurzawa also booked for contesting the decision.
Cabella stepped up to take the spot kick but Areola dived correctly to the right to deny the Corsican-born striker’s low effort, Mbappe cheekily standing behind Cabella indicating correctly to Areola where he thought the spot-kick would go.
Out-of-sorts PSG’s night went from bad to worse when Kimpembe was red-carded for picking up a second booking for catching Hamouma’s ankle with his studs five minutes from the break.
The referee blew his whistle for half-time but not before dishing out two further yellow cards, to PSG’s Javier Pastore and Lassana Diarra.
Kimpembe’s premature exclusion forced PSG coach Unai Emery into structural alterations with Thiago Silva replacing the under-performing Diarra for the second half.
It was a more dynamic and purposeful PSG that emerged, the speed of Mbappe proving a handful for the hosts.
Cavani entered the fray for Pastore for the final 20 minutes but he had his head in his hands when shooting wide from close range into an open goal.
That howler, which seemed to sum up PSG’s largely forgettable night up to then, came on a break following intense action down the other end with Areola doing well to deflect Oussama Tannane’s shot off the crossbar.
As the game moved into time added on the Ligue 1 gods finally smiled on PSG, with Debuchy deflecting in a shot from Thomas Meunier.
Whilst frustrating for the Qatari-backed side the stalemate will only have delayed their title coronation.