PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 3-1 Bastia
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Lucas Moura
Key players missing, an international break days before but Paris Saint-Germain still overcame a tricky obstacle in the form of Bastia last night to register a 3-1 win at the Parc des Princes. The sort of victory that wins league titles.
When you put into context the lack of preparation there was for the fixture it really is a well-orchestrated win. Sure, our opponents were inferior in terms of ability but in regards to heart, effort and desire they were certainly on par. We dominated possession but lacked a killer instinct in the first-half. We were unable to carve out any real clear cut chances but when you have the calibre of player we do, there is always one moment of magic away from turning the game in our favour.
Normally, that would be Zlatan Ibrahimovic but he, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Blaise Matuidi all started the game on the bench having played for their national teams in the week. In came the likes of Kevin Gameiro, Clement Chantome and Javier Pastore and all of them put in a sterling performance. Alex made his long awaited return due to injury, partnering Sylvain Armand at centre-back, slotting back in with no qualms at all.
As I said, in terms of ball retention, we were dominant throughout. Bastia had brief spells of attacking intent, all coming from Florian Thauvin but nothing to fret about majorly. Gameiro filled in superbly for Zlatan, working his socks off and his link-up play was excellent with Lucas, Pastore and Jeremy Menez.
Lucas, is certainly getting better and better with each game he plays and had a couple of chances to open his account. A superb piece of play from Maxwell and Gameiro culminated in the French striker flicking the ball diligently to the number 29 in the box but he sliced his effort wide. Another came from a freekick which took a deflection on its way through to Mickael Landreau’s grasp but had it not, it may have found its way into the back of the onion bag.
After the break, Menez opened the scoring five minutes before the hour mark. A lovely ball to him from Pastore resulted in the number seven advancing in on goal, dropping his shoulder and curling a left foot effort from distance that rolled under Landreau’s torso.
Zlatan entered the fray soon after and made it 2-0 from the spot, his 21st goal in 21 appearances. A piece of good fortune for us it has to be said. Replays showed that Lucas was fouled outside the box rather than in by Julian Palmieri.
Menez then very nearly scored one of the goals of the season. He ushered past five Bastia players with ease but his finish was superbly saved by Landreau’s big left hand.
With everything going so well, a bolt out of the blue from substitute Wahbi Khazri changed all that seven minutes from time. From nearly 40-yards out – maybe even more – the Tunisian struck his freekick with pure panache, giving Salvatore Sirigu absolutely no chance as it rustled into the top corner, catching him and everybody else off guard. Sirigu’s anger was evident as he rattled his studs down the post, knowing his club record of minutes without conceding a goal had come to an end in some fashion. Nevertheless, what an amazing feat. 948 minutes and nine consecutive Ligue 1 matches without concession. Incredible.
That goal certainly gave us a few jitters, something we had not seen from our defence in some time. Thankfully, Lavezzi eased the anxiety with an easy finish in stoppage time to put the points in the bag.
For the time being, it puts us six points clear of Lyon who play tomorrow at home to Lille at the Stade de Gerland. Not an easy game by ANY means.
Attention for us now turns to the Mestalla on Wednesday for our last-16 clash with Spanish stalwarts Valencia. David Beckham will be in attendance for that before linking up with the squad for the first time on Wednesday.
Here is to an exciting week for the club!