Olympiakos 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Ezequiel Lavezzi
Dreadful first-half, fantastic in the second. If ever the cliché ‘game of two halves’ rang true then it certainly related to Paris Saint-Germain’s performance last night.
A 4-1 victory on Greek soil is an impressive statistic whichever way you look at it. But to do it against an in form Olympiakos who had only lost three games at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in 12 months makes it all the more eye catching.
As expected Laurent Blanc handed Marquinhos his debut partnering compatriot Thiago Silva in the centre of defence. In the early goings he settled himself well as PSG opted to play keep ball at the back to try and quell the rapturous Greek support. Unfortunately he was partly at fault for The Reds equaliser. Taking nothing away from Vladimir Weiss, Marquinhos easily sold himself as the Slovakian cleverly nutmegged him before bamboozling Thiago Silva and slotting home – albeit via a deflection which took the ball away from Salvatore Sirigu. Nevertheless, it is no exaggeration to say it was a world class goal. The quick feet as well as the intelligence to fool a player of the calibre of Silva with a little shimmy before slotting the ball into the net was sensational.
This all came after we took the lead against the run of play thanks to Edinson Cavani. An equally impressive goal which involved Maxwell and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Brazilian linked up with the Swede magnificently with Ibra playing a majestic through ball back to his peer who then squared it for Cavani to tap home in the box. Zlatan deserves the acclaim for the precision of the pass to get Maxwell away.
As the first-half wore on, Olympiakos continued to dominate and were unlucky not to be ahead having hit the woodwork twice. The only shot on goal we could muster was Cavani’s opener emphasising just how much we were outplayed.
But, at the interval Laurent Blanc’s words must have been ringing in his players ears as they came out as a completely different outfit. Credit to Blanc also who introduced Ezequiel Lavezzi and he ultimately changed the whole dynamic of the game. He was spectacular, interchanging from one flank to the other with Cavani and the Greeks were unable to deal with them.
Weary legs and tired minds resulted in the concession of three headed goals from corners, two from Thiago Motta (both completely identical) and one from the new boy Marquinhos to his obvious delight. Just like Silva last season against Dynamo Kiev, he scored on his debut (which was incidentally his Champions League debut too).
Zlatan surprisingly missed a penalty in the last ten minutes, denied by a wonderful one handed save by Roberto Jimenez, who also denied the follow-up.
No denying we were much improved in the second-half. This was largely down to our ball retention as we kept possession a whole lot better than we did before the break. The introduction of Lavezzi was important as well as he injected a dynamic spark which we were lacking. He stands in good stead for a start at the weekend against Monaco.
I said before the game it was important to get off to a good start and we have certainly done that. If we can obtain a victory at home to Benfica on the 2nd October then qualification will look a certainty.