Derby County’s Under-23s shone bright under the lights at Pride Park Stadium as they fought back to earn point against Paris Saint-Germain in the Premier League International Cup.
The Rams stood up to the French side and asserted their dominance, but a first-half goal from Arnaud Luzayadio forced them to up the tempo even further.
After coming close time and time again, Cameron Cresswell found the equaliser in the second-half to earn the point.
The young Rams started well against the French giants and it didn’t take long for their solid attack to present chances. Kyle McAllister is now finding his rhythm in squad with the most regular playing time he has seen at Derby after an injury-plagued last season.
The Scottish winger made a break down the right in the opening minutes before crossing into the box, but his intended recipient, Duane Holmes, couldn’t reach it. Darren Wassall’s side continued to add pressure, taking on board his challenge for the team to start strong.
Cresswell looked dangerous in front of goal in the first-half with multiple attempts narrowly missing the target. His first came from a cross by Jacob Butterfield from the right that forced the forward to jump to reach. Despite connecting well, his one-touch shot went wide. Minutes later, it was Butterfield who held on to the ball to take his shot.
He rifled a shot from 25-yards out, that forced Sebastien Cibios to drop down to make the save. PSG had been relatively quiet but struck in the 20th minute to take the lead. Luzayadio was played the ball in the right side of the box and struck from close-range across goal and past Josh Barnes.
The French side had now found themselves and five minutes after taking the lead looked to double it. This time however, Barnes got down well to deny Abdallah Yaisien from close range.
From there, it was all Derby for the rest of the half as veteran defender Alex Pearce ensured the young Rams kept a tight formation to keep PSG out.
Cibios was again called into action with another Rams shot from range. This time it was youngster Louie Sibley who connected cleanly with a backwards flick by Cresswell. The opportunities kept coming for Derby with their free-flowing football enabling them to manoeuvre well around the French side.
Cresswell controlled the ball down well in the centre of the box and twisted his body to fire an off balanced shot over the crossbar. At the stroke of half-time he had another attempt glance just over. Joe Bateman made a great run down the right flank and left the ball for Cresswell just on the edge of the box. The 19-year-old sprinted in to take aim.
After a solid first 45 minutes, the Rams were unlucky to be behind and upped the tempo in the second-half to find the finish, and equaliser. It almost came just after the restart as Holmes fired in the box from the left. There was just too much power, however, as it skimmed McAllister’s head and Bateman couldn’t quite stretch to it at the far post.
Immediately down the other end, Bateman was forced into another save when Yacine Adli whipped a cross over to Metehan Guclu but the Rams’ stopper read it well.
Ten minutes into the second-half, Cresswell was rewarded for his hard work when Macdonald’s cross from the left found him in front of goal for a clinical finish to draw level.
With the Rams off the mark, they almost immediately took the lead as Holmes found himself one-on-one with PSG’s ‘keeper after an error in the back. But he ran out of space and Cibois managed to get his body to the shot.
Sibley once again was showing he could stand up to the older competition and forced Cibios to make a great save to punch away his low shot from 20-yards out.
Holmes then once more showed off his paced and found himself behind PSG’s backline but pressure forced him out wide and Cibois, who had had a busy night, made a more comfortable save.
Despite their efforts, Derby were unable to find the winner and were forced to settle for a draw in their opening game of the group stage.
Derby County: Barnes; Bateman, Pearce, Buchanan, Macdonald; Butterfield, Bird, Sibley; McAllister (Eyoma, 81), Cresswell (Shonibare, 85), Holmes (Mitchell-Lawson, 76)
Unused Subs: Yates, Wise, Karic, Hunt
Paris Saint-Germain: Cibois; Luzayadio, Hemans, Yaisien (Zagre, 58), Bernede (Epaillard, 55); Dina Ebimbe, Mbe Soh; Mzaouiyani (Postolachi, 72), Bernadou, Adli; Guclu
Unused Subs: Georgen, Toufique, Chesneau,