FCG Bordeaux 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Javier Pastore
It has been a long time since we witnessed Javier Pastore dictate the course of a football match but that was exactly what we were treated to last night. ‘El Flaco’ produced a performance reminiscent of those early days in his Parisien career where he split defences open for fun and it was pleasing to see it again. He was a huge influence in Paris Saint-Germain booking a place in the last-four of the Coupe de la Ligue with a 3-1 victory over Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.
The fixture had slipped under the radar as such due to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva’s involvement at the FIFA Ballon d’Or. An honour for the club I might add for the two of them to be included in the FIFPRO World-XI and for Zlatan to pick up the FIFA Puskas award for his outrageous overhead kick against England for his native Sweden.
Laurent Blanc made wholesale changes to his team from the last two games. The biggest surprise was his inclusion of Marquinhos at right-back with Gregory Van der Wiel rested. Of course with Christophe Jallet out for two months after back surgery, VDW is the only recognised player in that position. Credit to Marquinhos though, he did OK despite being out of his comfort zone, making no hiccups over the course of the 90 either.
Adrien Rabiot made his third consecutive start which is fantastic for his development but he did have an indifferent night. Veteran Zoumana Camara came in to partner Thiago Silva at the back. Jeremy Menez was also given a rare start as he and Lucas Moura supported Ibra up top.
The first 35 minutes of the game were largely forgettable. FCGB were more than content with us having the ball but we failed to create any meaningful chances. Ibra had a goal disallowed for offside that was superbly set up by Pastore and that seemed to swing the tide in our favour.
For the last 10 minutes of the half we were piling on the pressure with a real impetus in and around the Bordeaux penalty area. Zlatan even rattled the foot of the post, just as he did at the weekend against Ajaccio, with a vicious freekick.
Moments later, PSG took the lead. Zlatan played a delicate ball for Lucas just inside the penalty area. The little Brazilian did brilliantly to halt the play before rolling the ball back for Pastore to run on to and finish with aplomb. For a man who has been short on confidence for such a long time, he took it wonderfully.
After the interval, Rabiot gifted the home side an equaliser as he was disposessed just outside his own penalty area by Andre Poko who went on to score. That was Bordeaux’s first shot on target at the time. The skipper was irate with Rabiot but he was not helped by Marco Verratti’s pass into him. Nevertheless, the young man showed maturity by forgetting about it and refocusing on the game.
We dominated possession. Edinson Cavani who came on for Ibra at half-time showed glimpses of magic. Some of his touches with the ball were magnificent.
But, the real star of the show was Pastore. Playing in a three man midfield with Verratti/Rabiot, his link-up play was as good as it has been for many months. He showed confidence, at long last! He would pick the ball up and run at the defence. Those lean legs of his would be up and down the pitch, threading neat little passes in the process. It was his precise through ball that allowed Rabiot to get in behind the defence and smash home with five minutes to go. As good as the ball was from ‘Flaco’, do not discount the finish. Rabiot showed real composure after his mishap earlier on in the game. Minutes later, Blaise Matuidi who had come off the bench sealed the deal with a close range finish which – again – had Pastore involved.
It is a huge win. Blanc made so many changes yet his team came out the other end by booking a semi-final date. We will face either Lyon, Marseille, Evian, Troyes, Nice or Nantes. Also keeps us in all four competitions which is fantastic.
The night however belonged to Pastore. I am so pleased for him that he was able to prove that he still possesses all that ability. When he plays like that, there is not too many who match him in Europe. I would like to think he can kick on from this but time will tell.