Anderlecht 0-5 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
You know when something quite extraordinary has occurred on a football pitch when supporters of the opposing team rise to their feet and applaud a player that has been the heart of their downfall. That was the case last night when Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed his hat-trick with the most astonishing long range strike in a night that should be christened with his name. He has always been the catalyst for the team, no question about it, but even by his standards last night was one of the most iconic Ibrahimovic performances. To do what he did at this level is pretty unique and there are only a selective group of players in the world that can match that sort of performance. It is 10 goals in his last five games now. From a Parisien perspective he is quite simply the best in Europe, the best in the world and he is certainly the King. All hail Zlatan!
I said before the game Laurent Blanc will have seen this as a golden opportunity to put one foot in the last-16. But nevertheless, he could not have imagined at just how one sided and emphatic the performance would be. He brought back the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Edinson Cavani as well as Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti in the centre of midfield following their suspension at the weekend. He also brought back Gregory Van der Wiel who was pivotal to the victory. It was he that assisted Ibra’s first two goals. The Dutchman is reinvigorated under Blanc, finally showing the attributes he displayed so evidently at Ajax. He had the awareness and composure to pick out Zlatan with aplomb with his two deliveries into the box. Had he attempted something similar last season he would most probably have fluffed his lines. The full-back was one of the standout performers last night, no doubt about it.
Maxwell and Ezequiel Lavezzi on the left hardly had a mention all game. This was largely down to Anderlecht’s vulnerability down the right-hand side which we exposed so well. Van der Wiel to reaffirm was a large reason for that. We played the ball ever so well from the back, the confidence in the lads is oozing. Marquinhos again was ever so accomplished on the ball, reminiscent of the skipper Thiago Silva. Not afraid to come forward neither. Marco Verratti was terrific as well, his tenacity in particular to win the ball back led to the opening goal. He, Motta and Blaise Matuidi – as per usual – were superb in the middle of the park.
Edinson Cavani had a quiet night but that did not stop from him getting on the score-sheet. A slip by Chancel Mbemba led to Blaise picking the ball and calmly assisted the Uruguayan for an easy finish. The number nine started the night on the right of the front three as he has done for the majority of the campaign but did come inside at times. His professionalism has been mightily impressive, as well an equally impressive goal return thus far – eight goals already.
But undoubtedly the night belonged to Zlatan. His first was poacher’s goal at the back post. His second was an outrageous flick with the heel into the bottom left-hand corner. His third = out of this world. And his fourth was a combination of desire, great awareness from Motta with the pass, intelligent forward play and clinical finishing with the ball smashing in off the post. Four perfect goals!
It is three successive wins in Europe now, 12 goals scored and just the one conceded. Victory over Anderlecht in two weeks at the Parc will seal qualification – another feather in the cap of Laurent Blanc if we achieve it.
We have also extended the unbeaten start to the season and have NOW gone 29 games unbeaten in open play. It really is a wonderful time at the moment!