Montpellier, France, Aug 10: Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to draw 1-1 against 10-man Montpellier on Friday in the opening match of the French season.
Remy Cabella gave Montpellier a controversial 10th-minute lead as Zlatan Ibrahimovic appeared to be fouled in the buildup to the goal. Maxwell leveled on the hour mark to ensure new PSG coach Laurent Blanc avoided defeat in his first competitive game in charge.
“We would have hoped for a better result,” Blanc said. “But PSG had too little of the game in the first half for my taste. There was a lack of simplicity, with doubtlessly too much of a desire to touch the ball.
“There's a lot to say about what we did in midfield and in attack in the first 45 minutes. We tried complicated things against a well-grouped Montpellier team.”
Montpellier was reduced to 10 men when defender Abdelhamid El Kaoutari was sent off for a second yellow card 18 minutes from time.
That incident came moments after PSG had introduced new signing Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan, who was top scorer in Italy last season, almost netted his first PSG goal two minutes later but his header was blocked by a defender.
Cavani was signed from Napoli for 64 million euros ($84 million).
“It was an emotional night for me,” Cavani said. “It was my debut in this shirt and I am very motivated and ambitious for this season. My aim is to gain playing time in order to carve out my place in the team.”
PSG almost took an early lead but Ezequiel Lavezzi headed Lucas Moura's free kick into the arms of Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren.
Montpellier stunned the French champion by going ahead two minutes later. Cabella dispossessed Ibrahimovic by the center circle but appeared to clip the Sweden striker's ankle as he slotted the ball through to Emanuel Herrera. The Argentine raced down the center of the pitch and saw his shot deflected into the path of Cabella, who lifted it across the onrushing goalkeeper and into the top left corner.
Ibrahimovic could have leveled on the half hour mark during a good period of pressure for PSG but Jourdren got down well to tip a powerful long-range effort around the left post.
Cabella almost doubled his tally five minutes from halftime but toe poked his effort just past the right upright after doing well to dispossess Marco Verratti and race downfield.
PSG twice went close to equalizing with well-taken free kicks. But Ibrahimovic's 30-meter effort was inches wide of the right upright before Lucas saw his effort land on top of the net.
The capital club was back on level terms on the hour mark. Ibrahimovic nodded down a long pass from Javier Pastore in the six-yard box and Maxwell blasted it into the roof of the net.
The moment PSG fans had been waiting for came in the 71st minute when Cavani replaced former Napoli teammate Lavezzi.
Cavani almost had a perfect debut as he went close to scoring the winner but his header from a tight angle came off Siaka Tiene's outstretched boot.
Montpellier had a chance to win the match despite the numerical disadvantage when Cabella's chip flew just over the crossbar.
However, it was PSG who looked the likelier to score a late winner and Pastore fired wide of the left post before substitute Adrien Rabiot saw his header cleared off the line by Jourdren in injury time.