Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 Benfica
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Marco Verratti
If you wanted a DVD of the perfect performance, you might as well show last night’s demolition of Portuguese giants Benfica. We coasted to an emphatic 3-0 victory, with all three goals occurring in the opening half-hour. As professional as we were at undertaking the task in hand, the visitors did themselves no favours with a lacklustre display that merited a resounding defeat.
Laurent Blanc introduced Blaise Matuidi and Alex back to the spine of the team as we thought he would. Also, Ezequiel Lavezzi and his former Napoli teammate Edinson Cavani were brought back in to complete the three man tandem in the attack with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It was Zlatan who opened the scoring within the first five minutes with an easy tap in at the back stick. He found himself unmarked to score after Marco Verratti picked out Gregory Van der Wiel in the box with a clever through ball and the Dutchman cleverly played the ball across goal for the Swede to gobble up.
It really set the precedent for the next 25 minutes. Despite some brief possession from the Portuguese and the odd shot on goal, they offered very little in attack. Their failure to deal with a corner resulted in the second which came from Marquinhos who has hit a purple patch in terms of scoring. He bagged his third goal for the club after some clever play by Ibra to back heel the ball to Verratti who slipped in Matuidi to assist the Brazilian prodigy with an easy finish in the penalty area.
To top off our dominance, Zlatan headed home five minutes later from a tantalising delivery by Thiago Motta. Once again it reaffirms the astute mind of Laurent Blanc to put the Italian international on set-pieces. It has been very effective and is a nice addition to our artillery in attack.
After the interval you could see the game was over. Benfica were content with keeping the scoreline as it was. We kept possession superbly, knocking the ball around neatly. The statistics after 60 minutes told the story, 534 passes and 90% passing accuracy. Mightily impressive at this level of football.
It is a victory that gives us six points from six, three points clear at the top of Group C. With all due respect to Anderlecht, who we now face back to back, we have a great opportunity to book our place in the last-16 in comprehensive fashion. A win in Belgium will be a big step towards that goal.
Another impressive statistic is that we have now gone 26 games unbeaten in normal time. Take away the penalty shootout defeat to Evian in the Coupe de France back in April, the last time we tasted defeat in 90 minutes was back in March away to Stade de Reims. Such an impressive streak it has to be said.
With the form we are in, we are heading to the Velodrome to face Marseille this weekend in buoyant mood. It is set up nicely with OM sitting just below us in third and a point behind.
Let the build-up commence!