Derry City 0 Paris St Germain 0
Derry City kept their European dream alive tonight with a battling goalless draw against Paris St Germain in tonight’s UEFA Cup first-round first-leg tie at the Brandywell.
Stephen Kenny’s side can still hope for an upset in Paris in a fortnight’s time as they try to become the first Irish club ever to make it through to the group stages of a European competition.
Paris played well within themselves, more than confident of getting the result they need at the Parc des Princes.
They were nonetheless disappointing, and Derry will feel as though they could have pinched a win – hitting the bar in the first half and carving out the better chances over the 90 minutes.
With half-an-eye on his team’s faltering performances at home, PSG manager Guy Lacombe played only two of his internationals at the Brandywell – and only one in his starting line-up, goalkeeper Michael Landreau.
Portuguese World Cup striker Pedro Pauleta began on the bench and did not join the action until the last 20 minutes.
Kenny knew his best chance of making an improbable appearance in the group stages of the competition rested on winning the home leg handsomely and put out as attacking formation as he could.
City were more than a little fortunate to go in at the break still on level terms, after goalkeeper David Forde twice came for and missed what should have been routine clearances.
From a 30th minute corner from Pierre-Alain Frau, his blushes were spared by Killian Brennan on the line – and then seven minutes later centre-half Darren Kelly was on hand to clear Albert Baning’s shot from 10 yards out.
Brennan formed part of a loose three-man attack with Kevin McHugh through the centre and Patrick McCourt on the right – and he came closest to an opening goal when in the 16th minute he fired in a shot from 30 yards which looped over Landreau’s head but back into play off the crossbar.
The Irish conceded most of the early possession to PSG – but it was they who had the better of the chances until the French began to up the pressure in that spell before the break.
Brennan blazed a shot from 30 yards over the bar after a good passing move which let the French knew they could not afford to be complacent against a team who saw off former UEFA Cup winners Gothenburg in the first qualifying round.
PSG’s attempts on goal remained weak in the second half, Baning’s attempted lob in the 60th minute claimed easily by Forde under his bar.
Derry worked a move well down the right in the 63rd minute which gave Kevin Derry a chance in the box – but he missed the ball completely with his volley from a couple of yards out.
Kenny replaced the increasingly ineffective McCourt with striker Gary Beckett just after the hour, pushing McHugh out to the right side from where the majority of their attacks were coming.
Derry enjoyed a good spell midway through the second half but let themselves down by continually handing possession cheaply to the French.
Even the belated introduction of Pauleta did not sharpen up Paris.
In the end both sides seemed happy to settle for the draw – for very different reasons.