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VIDEO: PSG frustrated in draw with Anderlecht

French champions Paris Saint-Germain have been forced to wait to seal their place in the last 16 of the Champions League, after being held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Anderlecht at home on Tuesday night.

VIDEO: PSG frustrated in draw with Anderlecht
PSG star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores in a 1-1 draw against Anderlecht on November 5th. PSG will have to wait to seal their place in the last 16 of the Champions League. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

On a frustrating night at the Parc des Princes, PSG had most of the possession and no shortage of chances, but they fell behind to a Demy De Zeeuw goal midway through the second half and needed a Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike moments later just to earn them a point against a visiting side that had Sacha Kljestan sent off late on.

The nature of this encounter in the French capital contrasted starkly with the sides' encounter in Brussels two weeks ago, when PSG recorded their biggest ever away victory in continental competition, trouncing Anderlecht 5-0.

Laurent Blanc's men might have clinched top spot in the section with two games to spare in the event of a win, but instead they will need a draw at home to Olympiakos later this month to be sure of their last-16 berth.

Anderlecht, meanwhile, will be pleased to have recovered some pride and registered their first point of the campaign.

"It was a very nice surprise," visiting coach John Van den Brom said of the outcome. "I am very proud of my players after some of the criticism they have received recently, especially after the poor result against PSG last time."

Blanc was without Edinson Cavani due to a thigh injury, but he was able to welcome back Ibrahimovic after a nagging knee problem forced him to miss last Friday's 4-0 demolition of Lorient in Ligue 1.

The Belgian champions had hinted that they would settle for any kind of improvement on the thrashing they suffered in the last meeting of the clubs, and they predictably adopted a cautious approach in an attempt to frustrate their hosts this time.

It worked in the first half, with PSG unable to break down a defence comprising six men when the home side had possession, and early efforts from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic that both missed the target were as close as they came in the opening period.

Having initially been prepared to utilise Dennis Praet, their most likely creative spark, as an auxiliary right-back, Anderlecht slowly grew into the contest and their teenage Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic flashed a shot just over Salvatore Sirigu's goal.

PSG fans that have become used to seeing much better from their team greeted the half-time whistle with jeers, but there was worse to come after
the restart.

Ibrahimovic headed just wide from a Thiago Motta corner before teeing up Lucas to volley wastefully off target from an excellent position, and instead it was the visitors who drew first blood in the 68th minute to the disbelief of the entire stadium.

Praet found Kljestan on the edge of the box to the left, and the American midfielder cut the ball back for Dutchman De Zeeuw, who beat Sirigu with a low first-time effort to finally break his team's goalscoring duck in this season's competition.

PSG, though,  needed just two minutes to draw level, Blaise Matuidi finding Ibrahimovic, and the Swede poking the ball over the line after his initial effort had hit the post to make it five goals in two games against Anderlecht.

Blanc's side poured forward in search of the goal that would have won them the game and taken them through to the last 16, but they couldn't find it, even after the energetic Kljestan had been sent off for a second yellow card for handling nine minutes from the end.

Laurent Blanc, for his part, told reporters after the match that his team's failure to seal their last 16 berth may have been caused by players buying into the widespread hype that followed PSG's thrashing of Anderlecht last week.

"We the staff try to prepare the players to win. But there are people around who are saying: 'How many goals are you going to score against Anderlecht etc?' so maybe subconsciously they think that all they need to do is step on the pitch to win the game," said Blanc.

Watch highlights from last night's 1-1 draw here.

Paris-Anderlecht : Le 1 minute par PSG

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FOOTBALL

OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP

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