In the dying minutes, OL produced another extraordinary success. A wild night that confirmed OL’s league supremacy...
PSG has some problems… OL does too, but of a completely different nature – with injury Carew sustained in training on Saturday and Fred and Benzema recovering from injury, OL is without a recognised centre-forward. Consequently Sylvain Wiltord will perform duties in the unlucky position. « Nino » has the experience and the talent to ensure the three missing players aren’t missed. As for the rest, Gérard Houllier rightly « recalled » Squillaci, Cris, Juninho, Réveillère, Abidal, Malouda and Juninho… who were all rested for the European game mid-week. OL had become somewhat weaker than usual up front: 6 goals in the last six games, which, happily, translated as 5 wins, 4 of which came with the minimum score of 1-0. And when the attack stutters, the defence responds appropriately: 2 goals conceded in the 6 games, and no goals for 284 minutes.
The match really began in the 4th minutes with a collision between Cris and Hellebuyck at the very limit of legality; then Pauleta took a shot from inside the area that was ably grabbed by a kneeling Coupet. The Parisians really showed their desire to win, as did OL, with Govou and Wiltord combining for an effort that ended up in the hands of Landreau (10’); « Sid » followed this with a chip that flew just too far. Hellebuyck (15’), put through by Pauleta, found Coupet in his way, as did Yepes (17’) after a free kick. Without completely dominating, Pauleta and co posed serious problems to Juninho and his men.
The midfield battle raged; Dramé received a yellow card (23’) just before Wiltord hit Landreau’s bar after taking down a superb long ball. OL put PSG to the knife but Juninho, sadly, received a yellow card for so-called time wasting before taking a free kick and will be suspended for the Lens game. The visitors committed many fouls and the hosts took advantage to quickly shoot from range, Juninho 2 time sand Govou once (35’). Landreau’s flying save denied Govou a goal for his efforts as the game intensified. Pauleta came within a whisker of scoring with a gem of a shot (40’). Cris came close (44’) to a deserved yellow card; then Armand brought down Wiltord. Mr Hamer harshly gave him a yellow card and from the resulting free kick, « Juni » put the ball on « Nino’s » head, after it took a deflection from Yepes. OL scored its ninth header… its third in a row from a free kick by the Brazilian master. OL’s last seven goals in all competitions have come after set pieces. A balanced first half.
Rodriguez replaced Dramé. Taking on the Paris defence, Juninho was stopped on the edge of the area after being put through by Govou. PSG came back immediately into OL’s half through Kalou; Diané and Hellebuyck tried from distance to no avail. Paris dominated possession, but OL hit back through scorching efforts from Wiltord and Toulalan. A remarkable shot from Wiltord. But what can you say about Pauleta’s free kick on the hour that brought the men from the capital level with 30 minutes to go? Sumptuous.
The fierce contest intensified. Wiltord, went down holding his thigh and was replace by Ben Arfa ; Tiago was cautioned and will be suspended for the League Cup tie with Nancy. It was end-to-end stuff even with 15 minutes remaining. Källström replaced Govou. OL tried everything to find a way through the coherent, well-organised and motivated PSG team. Ben Arfa produced an amazing run only to have his shot stopped by Landreau. What a talent this young player is! Juninho twice found the right boot of Cris from corners. Unbelievable… until Malouda, given the ball deep, added an unforgettable page to the history of the club with his left boot. 2 goals in 60 seconds and even more scoring in the last 15 minutes. OL is out of this world. Marvellous.