Champions League

PSG buy Ancelotti time

2012-12-05 07:34
Carlo Ancelotti (File)

Paris - Paris Saint Germain earned under-fire coach Carlo Ancelotti a stay of execution on Tuesday as they put their recent run of poor form behind them to beat Porto 2-1 in the Champions League.

The big-spending French side were more than helped by a goalkeeping blunder by Porto's Helton as they moved into the the knockout phase as winners of of Group A.

PSG have slipped to fourth in the league table after a dismal domestic run that has left Ancelotti in danger of losing his job, but finally got the stroke of luck the Italian was looking for with a 61st minute winner that Porto 'keeper Helton will have nightmares about.

VIDEO: Champions League: PSG v Porto

Argentine striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, signed from Napoli this season, found a yard of space inside the box but his shot was tame and soft but somehow slipped under the Brazilian's body much to the delight of the fanatic Parc des Princes faithful.

Porto launched a late comeback and had a gilt-edged chance on 69 minutes when Colombian marksman Jackson Martinez almost scored his second of the match when he broke behind the defence only for PSG's Italian 'keeper Salvatore Sirigu to bravely dive at his feet and preserve the home advantage.

That was as close as Porto got as the capital side locked up their back line and smothered the midfield and Porto, the 2004 champions, ran out of imagination towards the end.

A relieved Ancelotti was happy with the performance. "We found our team spirit again, the players played with pride after all the hard criticism they have had," he said.

He added: "What I want is to see serious professional players playing for the team. What I read in the newspapers isn't true."

And he was confident the team had turned the corner. "I am sure that now things will quickly get better in the league," he said.

"There is no problem in the PSG dressing room, when you have to build a team with a lot of new players, it takes time, that's only natural."

In the opening half, PSG were the more determined team during the early exchanges and used their front line of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and wingers Levazzi and Jeremy Menez to get down the flanks and create havoc in the box.

While Porto weathered the storm for the opening half an hour, the relentless determination of Ancelotti's side forced the breakthrough, thanks to an innocuous free-kick on the left wing with 16 minutes left until half-time.

Former Barcelona wing-back Maxwell curled an inviting ball into the box and although Porto had players back in numbers, Thiago Silva showed greater concentration and was able to plant a firm header off the underside of the bar with Helton given no chance.

But the lead was short-lived as Porto showed their European pedigree and experience with a goal out of nothing just four minutes later.

The PSG defence fell to pieces and were unable to deal with a routine cross from Danilo on the right that left Alex and Thiago Silva flat-footed and allowed Colombian marksman Jackson Martinez to steer a stooping header past the stranded Sirigu.

Ibrahimovic should have put the result beyond doubt with a close-range rebound late in the match following a rare shot on goal from Javier Pastore but in the end it had no influence as PSG returned to winning ways and earned a seeded place in the draw for next year's knockout phase.

Read more on:    psg  |  champions league  |  carlo ancelotti  |  soccer

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