Thursday, 3 October 2013

PSG 3-0 Benfica: Zlatan's birthday party begins in style

Today is Zlatan Ibrahimovic's birthday. Many happy returns to the big fella, who has just turned 32.

Quite what sort of gift you would buy for a man who already has everything is open to debate, but Ibra gave Paris Saint-Germain fans an early present of his own by scoring twice as PSG cruised past Benfica 3-0 at the Parc des Princes last night. And they say he's a selfish man, pah!

With six points and seven goals already on the board from their first two games, PSG have started their Champions League campaign in impressive fashion. Coach Laurent Blanc was a happy man afterwards.

"The scoreline is perfect," said a jubilant White. "When you look at a game, you always have room for improvement, but I enjoyed it because we controlled the game and that is a key to our style. Tonight we got it right from first to last minute.

"The biggest players are always raring to go in the Champions League. Ibrahimovic is somebody who has never won it. I think that he, as well as the whole team, is hungry for it. He put in a very, very good display."

PSG lined up in their now usual 4-3-3 formation, but with Ibra stationed on the right of the front three and Edinson Cavani taking the role of the central attacker. And it was noticeable that a lot more of our play came down the right side of the pitch, whereas usually Maxwell and Lavezzi on the left provide the greater attacking theat.

While this new arrangement worked out well for Zlatan and Gregory Van der Wiel - who was heavily involved throughout - it wasn't so good for Cavani, who was peripheral and spurned a couple of good chances in the second half. Lavezzi, too, was reasonably quiet, though contributed a few darting runs. Still, after such a good overall showing one would imagine we'll line up the same way for Sunday's derby against Marseille.

Ibra opened the scoring in the fifth minute after great play from Marco Verratti, another of PSG's top performers on the night. MV's flicked pass round the corner was perfect for the onrushing Van der Wiel, who drove a low centre across the six-yard box which was gobbled up by Zlatan at the far post. First blood to the ProblemBear, 1-0.

It should be said that this Benfica side is obviously not up to the standard of previous vintages, but they're no mugs either, and it wasn't until PSG's second goal in the 25th minute that things started to feel comfortable. And what a goal it was: Ibra retrieved a deep corner and back-heeled the ball into the path of Verratti. His first time pass was controlled by Blaise Matuidi, who burst to the byline and pulled a cross back for the predatory Marquinhos to slot in his second goal in two Champions League outings. The Brazilian had never scored a senior goal before this season, but now has three in four starts. 2-0.

The situation got even better for PSG five minutes later as Zlatan climbed highest to head in a Thiago Motta corner. The goal was his 33rd Champions League strike in 97 appearances, but first with his head since 2007. 3-0.

With such a comfortable lead, the second half was always going to be a bit more low key, but PSG continued to control the game and carve out chances. Zlatan should have completed his hat-trick when Benfica keeper Artur parried substitute Lucas Moura's shot into his path. But with the whole goal to aim at Ibra struck his first-time shot over the bar.

But all-in-all it was a very satisfying evening's work. The only fly in our ointment was Jezza Menezza, who stormed off the bench and back into the changing rooms when he found out he wouldn't be coming on in the second half. Poor Jezza.

"He was certainly disappointed because he thought he would come on," said Blanc, who played down the incident. "I make the choices, that's it."

Man of the Match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic - The only people who had a problem with the ProblemBear last night were the Benfica defenders. In your face Hoeness.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms