PSG throw away two-goal lead to draw

The Pak Banker - - INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS/SPORTS -

David Beck­ham re­turned to the scene of his in­fa­mous 1998 World Cup red card hor­ror show on Sun­day, but was un­able to in­spire his Paris Saint-Ger­main team to vic­tory in a 2-2 draw with Saint-Eti­enne.

Beck­ham was sent-off for kick­ing out at Diego Sime­one early in the sec­ond half of Eng­land's 1998 World Cup last-16 clash against Ar­gentina at Saint-Eti­enne's Ge­of­froyGuichard sta­dium, a match which the South Amer­i­cans won on penal­ties.

The former Manch­ester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star be­came a na­tional scape­goat amongst home fans and me­dia for his send­ing-off, his act of petu­lance widely seen as the cause of Eng­land's exit.

On Sun­day, the 37-year-old former Eng­land skip­per started his first league game for the Ligue 1 ti­tlechasers, but saw his team throw away a 2-0 ad­van­tage.

The re­sult means PSG are now five points ahead of Lyon and seven up on Mar­seille with nine games to play.

Javier Pa­s­tore and Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic put the vis­i­tors 2-0 ahead with first-half strikes, but an Alex own-goal just be­fore half-time and a won­der­ful fin­ish from Fran­cois Clerc with 18 min­utes left meant the two sides shared the spoils.

"We're really dis­ap­pointed be­cause we should have won and there was a clear foul be­fore the equaliser. He could have bro­ken (Thi­ago) Silva's leg," said PSG 'keeper Sal­va­tore Sirigu fol­low­ing the con­tro­ver­sial equaliser.

The vis­i­tors got off to the per­fect start on nine min­utes when Ar­gen­tine Pa­s­tore worked his way into the box be­fore chip­ping the ball over on-rush­ing Saint-Eti­enne 'keeper Stephane Ruffier.

It got even bet­ter for Carlo Ancelotti's men 10 min­utes later when Swedish su­per­star Ibrahi­movic con­verted a penalty fol­low­ing a foul by Ruffier on Eze­quiel Le­vazzi in­side the area. It was his league­lead­ing 25th goal of the sea­son.

Saint-Eti­enne grabbed a life­line eight min­utes be­fore half-time when PSG's Brazil­ian de­fender Alex bun­dled the ball into his own goal past a star­tled Sirigu af­ter a scram­ble in the box. But PSG still ap­peared to have the match in hand and were on their way to a sev­en­point lead at the top be­fore it all went wrong fol­low­ing some sloppy de­fen­sive work that led to the equaliser. Right-back Clerc picked up a loose ball in­side the PSG penalty area on 72 min­utes and drove an unstoppable shot past Sirigu and into the right hand cor­ner for his first goal of the sea­son.

How­ever, just be­fore the goal, a dread­ful foul on Thi­ago Silva should have stopped play.

Both Ibrahi­movic and Beck­ham an­grily con­fronted the ref­eree at the fi­nal whis­tle.

"We all make mis­takes, even the ref­eree makes mis­takes, we are all hu­man," said Ibrahi­movic. "It was a sim­ple chat at the end. The ref­eree told me to calm down and I told him also to calm down." Beck­ham had a late chance to win the match for PSG with a free­kick just out­side the box but curled his shot, to­wards the left­hand cor­ner, drifted just past the post. In ear­lier games, Nice suf­fered a mas­sive blow to their Cham­pi­ons League am­bi­tions as they crashed to a 1-0 de­feat at rel­e­ga­tion- threat­ened Nancy while Toulouse and Bordeaux played out a 0-0 draw.

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