It was not great by any means but Paris Saint-Germain recorded a vital 3-1 victory at home to Lorient on Friday night. Essentially two penalties is what won the game for the champions and after all the scrutiny he has been under this week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic dispatched them as part of his hat-trick.
The Swede stepped up to the plate and was our best player. Not only for the goals but his general play was a cut above his peers. He made things happen, created openings and had a fair few chances of his own in open play. He did his talking on the pitch tonight which was important for him. He was in the wrong last week so it is nice for him to be getting the headlines for all the right reasons – as he has done for the vast majority of his three years in Ligue 1.
The team picked itself before kick-off but Laurent Blanc did spring a surprise by naming Thiago Motta at centre-back to partner his namesake Thiago Silva. David Luiz and Marquinhos were of course missing but Zoumana Camara – as a recognised centre-back – was left on the bench. That may just be a sign of the veteran’s time at the club possibly nearing its end in the summer. With all due respect to Lorient, we were not facing a team near the top of the table. This is the kind of game he would normally step into if we lacked bodies in defence.
We got off to the best possible start by winning a penalty in the first few minutes of the game. Zlatan was wiped out by goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte and the Swede dispatched the spot-kick with aplomb. Lecomte had an excellent game from then on in, making an array of top class saves – primarily from the Swedish number 10.
We bossed possession as we do at the Parc des Princes. As we know however, we fall into bad habits with a slender lead and this came back to haunt us with the concession of the equaliser in the 67th minute. Jordan Ayew, formally of Marseille, struck a venous shot from distance that arrowed into Salvatore Sirigu’s bottom right-hand corner. You could literally hear a pin drop as soon as the ball rustled the net. Nevertheless, credit to FCL, it was a marvellous goal that was expertly teed up by substitute Benjamin Jeannot.
There was a pivotal moment in the game soon after. Lorient would have taken the lead had it not been for little Marco Verratti’s head. He bravely took Ayew’s strike fully on the head whilst on the line which denied a certain goal. Had that gone in, we may very well be mulling over a defeat right about now. That was such an important moment.
It was one of those typical performances from us though where our lack of a killer instinct can cost us points. We have Lamine Kone to thank for being rash in the 81st minute as he brought down Javier Pastore to award us with a second penalty. Up stepped the big man, 2-1!
He wrapped things up in the dying embers as Lorient were left exposed at the back. It finished 3-1 in the end, not a memorable display but as Laurent Blanc remonstrated in his pre-match presser, three massive points were needed! It puts us top of the table momentarily as Lyon play tomorrow at home to Nice.