David Beckham saw his Paris Saint-Germain side squander a two goal lead to draw 2-2 with Saint-Etienne as he started a European league match for the first time in three years on his return to the scene of his most infamous moment.
Beckham was sent off at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard when England lost to Argentina in the second round of the 1998 World Cup but it looked as if he would make it a happy return as a neat Javier Pastore finish and cheeky Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty put his side two goals up.
But Saint-Etienne are now unbeaten in their last 14 matches and an Alex own goal and a wonderful late strike from Francois Clerc gave the home side a deserved share of the spoils. Beckham had two chances to be the hero late on with his trademark free kick but one flashed just wide and the other cannoned off the wall with just seconds remaining.
The draw means that PSG stay top the Ligue 1 table, five points clear of Lyon with nine games remaining whilst Saint-Etienne move to within two points of third placed Marseille in their quest for a Champions League spot.
The hosts had early claims for a penalty waved away but it was the league leaders who dominated the early play and went ahead only nine minutes in when Pastore latched onto a neat Ibrahimovic flick to lift his finish over Stephane Ruffier for his sixth goal of the season.
Saint-Etienne had barely recovered from the setback when they were two down. This time it was Pastore who turned provider, chipping a through ball forward to Ezequiel Lavezzi only for Ruffier to bring him down. A penalty and yellow card was the result but more importantly for PSG was the composure of Ibrahimovic, who was forced to re-take his penalty for Gregory Van der Wiel encroaching in the box. After scoring his first effort, a cheeky Panenka chip netted the striker his 29th goal of the season in all competition.
PSG looked in relative control but Saint-Etienne remained dangerous. Fabien Lemoine played in Brandao for a glorious chance of pulling a goal back but he dallied too long over the chance and allowed Salvatore Sirigu to save. Moments later and the home side did have their goal.
The nippy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang raced to the byline before whipping in a dangerous cross and Alex could only deflect it past Sirigu under pressure from Brandao.
Buoyed by their late goal in the first half, the home side picked up the pace after the break. Brandao headed a good chance over the bar from Yohann Mollo’s cross before turning provider for Aubameyang, only for Sirigu to rescue PSG with a fine save.
Ibrahimovic wasted a great chance to restore his side’s two goal advantage when put clean through on goal but he snatched at his effort, smashing it wide. It was a chance that PSG would rue as from their very next attack, Saint-Etienne were level. The ball fell kindly to Clerc on the edge of the box but his finish was sublime, curling it into the top corner with the outside of his boot.
Beckham himself enjoyed a fairly quiet night but lasted the full 90 minutes. And he had two chances to win the match in the final three minutes of the game but couldn’t quite provide the fairytale ending at the scene of his career lowlight.
In other Ligue 1 action on Sunday, Nancy kept alive its slim chances of avoiding relegation from the French league by beating fifth-place Nice 1-0 at home with Djamel Bakar getting the only goal.
While Toulouse and Bordeaux drew 0-0 in a mid-table clash.
- Sports & Recreation
- David Beckham
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- Javier Pastore