SAINT-ÉTIENNE, FRANCE (AFP) – Mauricio Pochettino’s first match as Paris Saint-Germain coach ended in a 1-1 draw at Saint-Etienne on Wednesday as his new team slipped three points behind Ligue 1 leaders Lyon.
The defending league champions fell behind early on to Romain Hamouma’s strike before Moise Kean levelled soon after, but laboured in the second half and failed to find a winner.
The former Tottenham boss was only confirmed as Thomas Tuchel’s successor last Saturday, four days after the German’s sacking was officially announced.
But the scale of the task facing the former PSG defender was laid out in front of him at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard as the capital-city giants’ title defence suffered another blow.
Lyon survived a late Lens comeback to extend their lead in the table with a 3-2 win, as Memphis Depay’s double proved crucial.
PSG did move into second, above Lille on goal difference, after Christophe Galtier’s team slipped to a surprise 2-1 home loss to Angers.
Pochettino made just two changes to the final starting XI selected by Tuchel for the 4-0 win over Strasbourg before the winter break, with Kean and Idrissa Gueye returning in place of Rafinha and Timothee Pembele.
PSG started well going forwards but looked vulnerable at the back and were made to pay in the 19th minute as Gueye carelessly lost possession on the edge of his own area.
Denis Bouanga had plenty of time to pick out Hamouma, who tapped into the net.
But the visitors wasted little time in equalising as Kean repaid Pochettino’s faith to score the first goal of the Argentinian’s era, spinning and firing home after Marco Verratti’s pass.
The Italian striker has now scored 10 goals for PSG since joining on loan from Everton in the close season.
But Les Verts, bidding to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches, continued to find gaping holes in the away defence and Keylor Navas had to make a smart, diving save to keep out Mathieu Debuchy’s volley.
Paris dominated possession early in the second period, but Saint-Etienne had the better chances, with Bouanga denied by Navas and Hamouma having a penalty appeal turned down.
PSG started to pile on the pressure in the final 15 minutes, with Angel Di Maria forcing home goalkeeper Jessy Moulin into a smart low stop after Kylian Mbappe’s clever dummy.
Substitute Pablo Sarabia wasted a golden chance in injury time, blazing over with just Moulin to beat.