Pastore and Ibrahimovic had Ancelotti's side a couple of goals to the good, yet an Alex own goal and a second-half strike from Clerc ensured a share of the pointsOn a weekend in which the formbook was ripped up in Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain failed to significantly build its lead at the summit of the standings as it threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against in-form Saint-Etienne, which remains unbeaten in 2013.
Javier Pastore opened the scoring for the visitors early in the match, and when Zlatan Ibrahimovic added a second from the penalty spot, the game seemed out of Sainte’s reach. However, an Alex own goal just before the break helped reinvigorate the home side, which levelled with less 20 minutes left through a fine Francois Clerc strike.
PSG started this match with the aura of a champion as it played at a fantastic tempo and caught its opponents twice in the early moments.
A neat pass from Ibrahimovic released Pastore after only nine minutes, and the Argentine profited from some lamentable defending from Moustapha Bayal Sall to clip the ball over Stephane Ruffier and into the net.
Although the initial response from Saint-Etienne was strong, it was caught on the break by a long ball forward to Ezequiel Lavezzi, who went down in the box under a challenge from the home goalkeeper. Referee Anthony Gautier awarded the penalty, which was converted nonchalantly by Ibrahimovic.
Despite this strong start, Carlo Ancelotti’s side could not build on it, and before the break the lead was halved when a wicked cross from the impressive Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was turned into his own net by Alex under pressure from Brandao.
There was no relent in the intensity of a fascinating match after the interval, but it was the home side which was completely dictating matters. Aubameyang drew a terrific save from Salvatore Sirigu at his near post before the hosts moved deservedly level through the unlikeliest of sources.
A spate of pinball in the PSG box ended favorably for the hosts as the ball broke out to Clerc on the corner of the box, and the right back bent a glorious shot into the very top corner of Sirigu’s goal.
Moments before the equalizing goal, Ibrahimovic had a rare chance to put the game beyond the Loire side, but he powered a first-time shot wide after latching onto a searching Christophe Jallet pass forward.
It was, however, Saint-Etienne which looked the likelier side to claim the points come full-time, despite a David Beckham free kick that flirted with the home goal in the last minute.
A draw does little to damage PSG’s title hopes as none of the top six in Ligue 1 won this weekend, yet it failed to open up a seven-point advantage at the summit.
Saint-Etienne, meanwhile, has consolidated fourth and sent a real message to the other Champions League hopefuls that it is very much a force with the mental toughness to challenge until the last weekend in May, when the league reaches its conclusion.