Paris Saint-Germain finish with 10 men in fortunate draw against St Etienne
Leaders Paris Saint-German gained a dramatic 1-1 draw against St Etienne at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard after being reduced to 10 men.
A nine-match unbeaten run in Ligue 1 looked to be reaching its conclusion after Remy Cabella struck a first-half goal, then PSG had Presnel Kimpembe sent off just before the break.
But the visitors kept plugging away, and they gained their reward in the second minute of stoppage time when St Etienne’s Mathieu Debuchy put the ball into his own net.
PSG could have secured the title with victory — and Monaco losing to Nantes on Saturday — but celebrations must remain on ice for a little longer, even if their advantage at the league summit is now 17 points.
The visitors made a hesitant start, and after Romain Hamouma sent an early opportunity high and wide, St Etienne took a 16th-minute lead.
They had settled far quicker than their opponents, and they were rewarded when France international Cabella struck from close range.
Cabella, on loan from Marseille, took his chance in style, and St Etienne did not let up as Paris goalkeeper Alphonse Areola was forced into sharp saves from Hamouma and then Kevin Monnet-Paquet in quick succession.
PSG could not get into the game, and they were again indebted to Areola after St Etienne were awarded a penalty 16 minutes before half-time.
Referee Nicolas Rainville ruled that Hamouma was fouled inside the area, and gave Layvia Kurzawa a yellow card before Cabella stepped up to take the resulting penalty.
But Areola read it brilliantly, diving low down to keep it out and prevent the home side from doubling their advantage.
The visitors, though, pressed a self-destruct button as the interval approached, losing their discipline in a way that belied their status as runaway league leaders.
Two yellow cards in 13 minutes meant Kimpembe was sent off just before the break, but there was still time for referee Rainville to hand out two more cautions, with Paris players Javier Pastore and Lass Diarra on the receiving end.
St Etienne then closed out the half, leaving their opponents with a demanding task as they changed ends a goal down and a player down.
Thiago Silva replaced Diarra for the second period, and the visitors shaded a tight first 15 minutes without threatening to cancel out Cabella’s early strike.
But St Etienne substitute Oussama Tannane then hit the bar, before Edinson Cavani missed a good chance for PSG as the visitors continued pushing for an equaliser.
The real drama, though, was still to come, with PSG equalising just when it looked like they might run out of time, and their last league defeat remains a 2-1 loss to Lyon in mid-January.