UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Ajax
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Paris Saint-Germain does not do things the easy way and that was the case last night in the 3-1 victory over Ajax Amsterdam. It sets us up beautifully for that final clash with Barcelona at the Camp Nou with top-spot up for grabs. We can head to Catalonia knowing that anything but a defeat will see us qualify as group winners.
We had to overcome an excellent Ajax side to be in this envious position. The Dutch giants did not come to the Parc des Princes to play in some sort of exhibition, they set the tone. They edged us in the first-half in terms of possession with 55% and overall with 60%. Those kind of figures are nine times out of 10 in favour of the hosts. The total football philosophy was evident and their goal epitomised that to level things up at 1-1 during the second-half.
Prior to the game, Laurent Blanc made a couple of changes from the side that beat Metz last Friday. In came David Luiz for the skipper who was out through injury. Adrien Rabiot was handed a consecutive start and his first in European competition this season. Blaise Matuidi came back to the fore after fracturing his hand. And Edinson Cavani came back to the starting-XI with Lucas Moura starting on the bench.
The balance of play was pretty even in the first 20 minutes. The Dutch settled though, playing some really good football along the deck. We were chasing shadows at times. Les Parisiens had to be disciplined, kept the shape and pounce at the right opportunity. Thankfully, we got our goal at the perfect time as the visitors dictated the play. Just after the half-hour mark, Rabiot fizzed the ball into the path of Ibra who clipped the ball over the defence first time for Ezequiel Lavezzi who unselfishly squared to Cavani for an easy tap-in. The front-three all involved in a lovely move. Cavani was offside as Ibra played the ball to Lavezzi but not when he became involved in the second-phase of play. It settled us down as we finished the stronger before the interval.
After the break we were comfortable. The second goal eluded us but we never really felt any urgency from the Dutch to find an equaliser. They played some good football but we were containing them.
Their equaliser though was a thing of beauty. The array of passing beforehand culminated in 19-year-old Ricardo Kishna whipping a delightful ball onto Davy Klaaseen’s diving head to give Salvatore Sirigu no chance. Just pure quality. Gregory Van der Wiel should have stopped the cross but take nothing away from the young lads in the red and white.
With Barcelona winning in Cyprus, an air of discontent simmered in the Parc amongst the fans. Ajax was smelt blood and it was a concern. But who can you rely on in a matter of need? The main man of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
He produced a piece of magic to control Javier Pastore’s ball into his chest and swivelled on the half-volley to swipe home past Jasper Cillessen. The big Swede needed that, as did the team! We were flat after their equaliser and needed a spark. Ibra gave us it!
Soon after a dreadful pass back by Niki Zimling put Cavani clean through on goal to get his brace and wrap up the points. It was a gift!
We were up against a very good side but in the end we needed a touch of class from a match winner. Ibra is back! He played a key role in the opener as well as netting his goal. His general play all round is still a little off-key but nevertheless, his importance to this team is fundamental. Had he not been playing last night, who knows? We may have just ended up with a point.
It doesn’t matter anyway, he is back, PSG are top and we have a golden opportunity in two weeks to finish as winners of the group. It will need to take one monumental effort but as the club always stipulates; ‘Dream Bigger’. So why not? Bring it on.