Paris Saint-Germain not only booked a place in yet another cup final last night, they thumped Christophe Galtier’s Saint-Etienne 4-1 to set up a showdown with Ligue 2’s Auxerre in the capital on May 30th. In what was a fantastic night for the football club, striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic made history by becoming the club’s second highest goalscorer, hitting a century and netting a hat-trick. It was a marquee night in the player’s Parisian career. He overtook Dominique Rocheteau into second place and is now just seven goals off equalling the great Pauleta. It is now a matter of time as to when he breaks it!
As big a night it was for Ibra, it was greater for the football club as a whole. Another significant step towards achieving something no other French club has ever done and that is winning a domestic treble. We are top of the league, have a cup final on Saturday against Bastia and now a showpiece at the end of May against Auxerre awaits. It will be a repeat of the 2003 final which AJA won 2-1.
The team pretty much picked itself prior to kick-off due to the injuries. Marco Verratti was ushered in as the anchor-man to accommodate for Thiago Motta’s absence as Yohan Cabaye and Adrien Rabiot joined him in the midfield trio. Marquinhos was alongside the captain at centre-back with Gregory Van der Wiel installed back at right-back as Lucas Digne played opposite. The two Argentines Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi provided the support for Zlatan.
And it was the two compatriots who were setting the tone for PSG in the first-half. Lavezzi had the first chance of the game as his close-range strike was well saved by the legs of Stephane Ruffier. The Frenchman would deny Pocho again soon after as Pastore played a marvellous ball through which was matched by a well-timed run from his mate. Ruffier however was was there to deny him again.
There was no quietening Lavezzi. He won a penalty in the 21st minute. Ibra’s back heel to set him away was absolutely majestic. The big Swede stepped up to convert and consolidate his century.
But Les Verts were not behind for long. A delicious delivery was well met by the head of Romain Hamouma to bring the visitors back on level terms. And that goal spurred them on as they gave as good as they got. It created an open game but Van der Wiel very nearly gifted them the lead. His poor back pass was latched onto by former Parisian Mevlut Erding but thankfully his selfishness to shoot rather than pass resulted in Thiago Silva getting a key block in. Nicolas Douchez pulled off a magnificent save also to deny a Loic Perrin header.
After the break though we upped the ante and to be honest, there was only one team in it. It took up to the hour mark but Lavezzi capped off his performance with a goal. Pastore played a David Beckham-esque cross into the area which the little man guided home with his head over Ruffier. He reeled away in jubilation by taking his shirt off which amusingly was met by a disgruntled reaction from Laurent Blanc – Pocho being booked for it of course.
ASSE never really had any answers as we were the one posing the questions. Ibra rattled the post as Adrien Rabiot showed real composure to set him away after orchestrating a counter-attack. The Swede though would get his brace. Blaise Matuidi who came on as a substitute played the ball in behind the defence for him to round Ruffier and put the game to bed.
17-year-old Jean-Kevin Augustin made his debut for the club in the dying embers and got an assist to his name for the big man to complete his hat-trick in stoppage time. So 4-1, game over, a place in the Coupe de France booked. That just put the icing on the cake for what was a terrific night for the whole football club.