Paris Saint-Germain's French defender Serge Aurier (L) heads the ball with Evian TG's Danish forward Nicki Nielsen during the match between Evian Thonon Gaillard and Paris Saint-Germain in Annecy, France, on August 22, 2014Paris Saint-Germain's French defender Serge Aurier (L) heads the ball with Evian TG's Danish forward Nicki Nielsen during the match between Evian Thonon Gaillard and Paris Saint-Germain in Annecy, France, on August 22, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jeff Pachoud)
Paris (AFP) - Paris Saint-Germain once again came unstuck against their bete noire Evian on Friday, being forced to settle for a 0-0 draw after having Yohan Cabaye sent off in their Ligue 1 clash in Annecy.
Evian have caused problems for PSG at their Parc des Sports in the recent past, knocking the capital club out of the French Cup at the quarter-final stage in 2012-13 and then winning 2-0 last December after Paris had gone 26 games unbeaten.
Nevertheless, the Alpine outfit had lost their opening two matches of this campaign, conceding nine goals in the process, including in a 6-2 thumping at Rennes last week.
But they defended doggedly to hold the champions, who were missing talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic and captain Thiago Silva due to injury and have won just one of their opening three league matches after drawing 2-2 at Reims a fortnight ago.
"In other situations there is no doubt we will manage to break teams down. They defended well. It was a reassuring result for them," PSG coach Laurent Blanc told beIN Sports, before insisting that he was not worried by his team's failure to win the game.
"No, not at all. The only problem is when you are unable to cause enough problems to Evian with 11 men and then you find yourselves down to 10.
"Honestly I think that given the way the game went we didn't do enough to take three points. We leave with mixed feelings. We expected to have difficulties at the start of the season, especially in August, but I don't think there is any reason to worry.
"We had a competitive enough team to win this match," he added, despite the absences of Ibrahimovic, Silva and Gregory Van der Wiel. "But we created too few chances to win the game."
Blanc gave first starts of the season to French international pair Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi, with Thiago Motta only on the bench after a headbutt from Brandao at the end of last week's 2-0 win against SC Bastia left him with a fractured nose.
- Missed opportunity for Cavani -
Without Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani was given the opportunity to play in his favoured role of central striker, and he had the best chances for the visitors.
However, his free-kick midway through the first half was tame and went straight into the arms of Evian's Danish goalkeeper Jesper Hansen.
A defence-splitting pass by Lucas then put Cavani through, but he slipped while attempting to round Hansen and his shot was easily blocked.
Lucas fired narrowly wide of the far post early in the second period and the Brazilian then created another opening for Cavani in the 71st minute, but this time the long-haired forward saw his ferocious strike beaten out by Hansen.
Before that, the visitors were reduced to ten men in the 62nd minute when Cabaye, starting for the first time since an extended post-World Cup holiday, was shown a second yellow card for a second foul on Nicki Bille Nielsen.
With a man less, they lacked the inspiration to break down the determined hosts, although Evian only really attempted to snatch victory themselves in the dying minutes.
Salvatore Sirigu had been a virtual spectator all evening, but the Italian international 'keeper was finally called into action in the second minute of stoppage time to tip a net-bound Nicolas Benezet effort over the bar.
Early leaders Bordeaux are in action away to Nice on Saturday, while Saint-Etienne, the only other side with maximum points after two games, entertain Rennes on Sunday.
Marseille will look for their first win under new coach Marcelo Bielsa away to French Cup holders Guingamp on Saturday afternoon, and Monaco travel to Nantes on Sunday night after losing their first two games of the campaign.