Stade Brestois 2-5 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Two postponements and a bucket load of rain yet it did not deter Paris Saint-Germain in any way as they coasted to a 5-2 win over Ligue 2 side Brest in the Coupe de France. The victory was influenced by the talisman up top Zlatan Ibrahimovic who netted a first-half hat-trick. With Edinson Cavani grabbing the headlines at the back end of last year, it was the Swede who ensured that the start of 2014 would be littered with his own.
Laurent Blanc paid respect to his opponents. With the exception of Nicolas Douchez and Adrien Rabiot, he more or less played his strongest team. Marco Verratti was missing with a groin problem as Salvatore Sirigu handed over his goalkeeper gloves for Douchez who of course comes in for the domestic cups. Ezequiel Lavezzi was given the nod ahead of Lucas Moura and the Argentine would find himself netting a much needed goal in the second-half.
In a damp sodden Stade Francis-Le Ble, the French champions looked to have wrapped things up in the first 15 minutes. Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with an emphatic pile driver in the 10th minute before Thiago Motta bagged himself a rare goal five minutes later. That seemed to have ended the tie there and then but credit to SB29, they pulled a goal back via Benoit Lesoimier just after the half-hour mark. In truth though, he was helped by some shoddy defending at the back which may have been aided by the blustery conditions. Nevertheless, you would have expected us to deal with the situation better.
It wasn’t to matter anyway as Ibra grabbed his second of the night to convert a Thiago Motta set-piece and then eventually securing his hat-trick with a diligent chipped finish past Joan Hartock.
It only took a minute after the interval for Les Parisiens to net a fourth. This came from Lavezzi who was assisted by the catalyst Zlatan before finishing with aplomb. Ibra was soon substituted after that but was given a standing ovation by the home supporters which was a lovely show of respect. Ibra acknowledged it too with a little clap as he made way for Lucas.
Jonathan Ayite pulled another back for the home side with a minute to go but it was scant consolation. In the end it was a routine victory for us and a good start to the year. It means we will meet Montpellier at the Parc des Princes in the next round with full knowledge that we are still in all four competitions. We travel to Ajaccio at the weekend as Ligue 1 recommences before heading to Bordeaux on Tuesday for the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final.
As for Ibra, that is now 26 goals in 25 appearances for the football club this season and is well on course to beat his tally last season of 35. Incredible!