Paris Saint-Germain suffered frustration in their opening Ligue 1 match of 2013 as they were held to a scoreless draw against Ajaccio on the evening that Lucas Moura made his debut for the club.
Aside from a fine performance from the Brazilian on his Parc des Princes bow, the main talking points were a first-half red card for Thiago Motta, which left his side down to 10 men for the duration of the second period, and an injury to Thiago Silva that forced the centre-back off injured.
Depleted due to injuries and players on international duty, Ajaccio set their side up in a defensive fashion, as expected. Although they came under intense pressure, PSG were generally well restricted by the packed defence.
Thiago Motta might have given the hosts the lead when he caught the visitors sleeping from a Zlatan Ibrahimovic free kick, yet he allowed his shot to squirt wide. Blaise Matuidi was then the first of several home players to be denied by athletic visiting goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Matuidi would be les Parisiens’ dynamo throughout, but after bulldozing his way through the Corsican defence the Mexican was again there to deny him.
Until Frederic Sammaritano was crudely fouled by Thiago Motta on the stroke of half-time, earning the midfielder a red card, Ajaccio had been largely anonymous as an attacking force, despite the best efforts of Adrian Mutu, whose over eagerness to shoot was typified by a free kick from a ridiculously tight angle being fired into the side netting.
For a period following the red card, the dynamics of the game changed as Ajaccio looked more confident, but ultimately their backs-to-the-wall approach returned as PSG sought a winning goal.
Alex was a real threat aerially for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, yet Ochoa produced an incredible save to deny the Brazilian after a wicked Lucas cross, before Matuidi fired the rebound wastefully high.
The former Sao Paulo man impressed the home fans immensely, but he could not cap his debut with a goal, despite fashioning space for a shot after beating several defenders. His effort was ultimately deflected wide.
Ochoa, though, would be the hero of the hour for the visitors, blocking well from Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the Swede escaped the clutches of the visiting defence.
Ultimately, PSG would be stifled by their opponents, whose stuffy determination must be admired, even if some of the home finishing left much to be desired.
Under the charge of new boss Albert Emon, this was a fine response from the Corsicans after being dumped out of the Coupe de France last weekend by amateur opponents, while PSG face the prospect of dropping to third in the league if Lyon and Marseille win their fixtures over the course of the next two days.