Atletico Madrid 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
By Declan Taylor
Arsenal remain top of the Emirates Cup table after Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain played out an entertaining draw in Sunday’s first game.
Sergio Aguero fired the Spanish side into the lead from the spot in the 39th minute but, despite having a man dismissed during the penalty incident, PSG equalised through Ludovic Giuly in the second half.
The draw, and that goal apiece, means Arsenal retain top spot with five points, with Rangers one point behind them in second. Arsenal now need only a draw against the Scottish champions to take the trophy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly both managers rang the changes after yesterday’s defeats. Aguero was the only remaining starter for Atletico so Jose Antonio Reyes, subject of much booing against Arsenal, had to make do with a place on the bench. None of PSG’s starters against Rangers retained their place but Jean-Eudes Maurice and Younousse Sankhare, who both started on Saturday, were among the substitutes.
After lashings of rain yesterday, more pleasant conditions greeted the sides this afternoon. And the sun certainly brought out the best in the Parisians who had looked rusty against Rangers.
Led by ex-Chelsea frontman Kezman, alongside the lively Peguy Luyindula, PSG spent most of the first 10 minutes camped in their opponents’ half.
But it was the Spanish side that would go closest to breaking the deadlock through Cleber Santana in the 11th minute. The Brazilian cut in off the left but saw his sizzling 25-yard drive graze the top of the crossbar.
Three minutes later PSG’s Stephane Sessgnon, who was named Man of the Match, thudded a long-range volley just past Roberto Jimenez’s right-hand post.
The French side continued to probe but, like yesterday, their forward play lacked any real intensity. Giuly could have broken the deadlock in the 33rd minute but he speared a volley two yards wide after Kezman’s neat knockdown.
Despite their dominance, six minutes before the break, PSG went a goal - and a man - down. Aguero raced onto a superb through-ball but was brought down by Albert Baning as he rounded the keeper. Referee Alan Wiley pointed to the spot and dismissed the Cameroon defender for a professional foul. To compound PSG’s misery, the Mexican dispatched his penalty with aplomb.
With their numerical advantage, Atletico started the second half in the ascendancy.
Five minutes after the interval, Sammy Traore had to clear Aguero’s cross from underneath the crossbar after the Mexican had wriggled to the byline. Then, minutes later, Jurado crashed a swerving effort against the post.
But PSG weren’t overawed and they equalised against the run of play 20 minutes from time.
Sessegnon blasted past Juan Valera on the left, surged into the area and found the waiting Giuly with a low cut-back. With the keeper well out of position, the one-time Champions League winner fired the ball into the empty net from 12 yards.
Galvanised by the goal, Anotoine Kombouare’s side went in search of their winner. First, Sylvain Armand’s low cross rolled just behind the onrushing Kezman 10 yards from goal. Then the Serbian striker beat the offside trap but struck a tame effort straight at Roberto Jimenez.
German Pacheco struck the post with a vicious effort three minutes from time but Atletico could not snatch a second either, despite the late introduction of Reyes.
Of course, now the focus turns to Arsenal.
Atletico Madrid (4-2-3-1): Jimenez; Valera, Perea, Pablo, Lopez(c); Koke, Cleber (Garcia 66); Maxi (Pacheco 72), Jurado (Reyes 87), Simao; Aguero (Borja 55).
Subs not used: Heitinga, Assuncao, Juanito, Ujfalusi, Dominguez, De Gea, Keko.
Paris Saint-Germain (4-4-2): Edel; Ceara, Baning (sent off 39), Traore, Armand(c); Giuly (Boli 76), Ngoyi, Sessegnon, Clement; Kezman (Maurice 81), Luyindula.
Subs not used: Grondin, Sankhare.
Referee: A. Wiley
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