PSG miss chance to go on top of Ligue 1 after scoreless draw with Montpellier

Marseille stay top on goal difference before they take on Lille at home on Sunday while third-placed Lyon, who could theoretically upset the apple cart if Marseille came unstuck, travel to Bordeaux.
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Thiago Motta, left, defender David Luiz and forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic react during their French Ligue 1 football match against Montpellier on December 20, 2014 at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Thiago Motta, left, defender David Luiz and forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic react during their French Ligue 1 football match against Montpellier on December 20, 2014 at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

PARIS // Paris Saint-Germain failed to find the killer punch in a drab goalless draw at home to Montpellier on Saturday, handing arch-rivals Marseille the chance to end the year on top of the Ligue 1 table.

Marseille stay top on goal difference before they take on Lille at home on Sunday while third-placed Lyon, who could theoretically upset the apple cart if Marseille came unstuck, travel to Bordeaux.

But for the Parisians, it was another case of failing to live up to the pressure, following defeats to Barcelona in the Champions League and then Guingamp in the league, before an unconvincing 3-1 victory at second-tier AC Ajaccio in the League Cup in midweek.

An error-strewn first-half at the Parc des Princes saw the mid-table visitors knock the Parisians out of their normally fluid style and frustrated them throughout the first 45 minutes.

Montpellier could even claim the best chance of the first 45 minutes when Morgan Sanson had the the ball in the net with an acrobatic volley from Antony Mounier’s cross from the left, but Mounier was harshly ruled offside and the goal did not count.

PSG had to wait until five minutes from half-time before carving out a creditable chance of their own but failed to take advantage as Edinson Cavani needed one touch too many on Marco Verratti’s through pass and the ball ran away from him, allowing Montpellier ‘keeper Jonathan Ligali to smother it at his feet.

The home side were looking anything like reigning champions even after upping the tempo at the start of the second half, as Montpellier managed to soak up everything PSG could throw at them.

But PSG gave notice that it might not be long before they took the lead as they moved up a gear in the 63rd minute.

First Lucas had a penalty appeal waved away after tangling with Abdelhamid El Kaoutari in the area and from the resulting corner, taken by Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva rose unchallenged to head goalwards only for Mounier to scramble it off the line.

However, it was not be as the clock ran down with neither side looking likely to break the deadlock.

Montpellier had scored seven goals in their previous two matches, but seemed mostly content to play a containing game and manager Rolland Courbis looked the happier at the final whistle as counterpart Laurent Blanc reflected on what might have been.

Blanc said: “I am disappointed with the last two games, against Guingamp and Montpellier, as we should have got more than one point from two matches and that would have meant we had a satisfactory first half of the season.

“Our lack of rhythm since the start of the campaign was evident again tonight.”

He added: “All season, we have been guilty of a lack of fight in midfield. It’s true we didn’t have many chances, but then nor did they. We are missing that attacking edge.”

Ironically, the two sides will meet again in their very next next competitive match, having been drawn together in the French Cup, with the tie to be played in early January.

Guingamp, meanwhile, continued their mini-revival with a hard-won point from the 1-1 draw at Toulouse to leapfrog their opponents into 12th place -- but still only three points above the relegation places.

Thibault Giresse put Guingamp ahead in the eighth minute before Tongo Hamed Doumbia equalised after 26 minutes and Wissam Ben Yedder missed a 56th minute penalty, allowing the visitors to hold on for a share of the spoils.

Nantes came away from the short trip to Lorient with all three points after a 2-1 win, Reims climbed to ninth with a 3-1 win away at Rennes and Monaco won 1-0 away at struggling Metz, while the bottom two, Caen and Bastia, shared the points in a 1-1 draw.

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Published: December 21, 2014 04:00 AM

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