Paris Saint-Germain coasted to their first piece of silverware this season by retaining the Coupe de la Ligue thanks to a 4-0 drubbing of 10-man Bastia. Sebastien Squillaci’s dismissal in the first-half ended the game as a contest with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani both netting braces in front of the Parisian support at the Stade de France.
Laurent Blanc made a couple of calls beforehand. Cavani started from the bench having just recovered from a thigh complaint – even though he showed no ill effects when he came on. Adrien Rabiot and Serge Aurier were both handed starts. The pair of them played to their capabilities, especially Aurier who was instrumental in two of the goals with his crossing. The Argentines Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore played together for the second successive game to support Ibra. All three were predominant in the victory.
In the early sparring, it was the Corsicans who posed the questions. Their physical approach was certainly unsettling us. Thiago Silva received a bang on the head, Aurier was having words with just about anyone in a blue shirt. No doubt it was a spiky affair.
But, the game as a whole was changed in a blink of an eye in the 20th minute when Squillaci brought down Lavezzi in the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in sending the former Arsenal man off. That was the third penalty in the last five games Lavezzi had won. Up stepped Zlatan to dispatch emphatically and claimed his 103rd goal for the football club.
From then on in it was just pure Parisian pressure. SCB had no answers as they were dumbstruck by what had transpired.
Five minutes before half-time, Ibra completed his brace. Aurier played a teasing ball from the right which was headed out but the big man controlled on his chest before firing past on-loan PSG keeper Alphonse Areola.
After the break it was more of the same. Lavezzi had a wonderful chance to get a goal that his performance deserved. He just dragged a shot wide having done the hard work to create the opening. Just before that Pastore had a decent effort on goal which was well gathered by Areola.
There was a sight for sore eyes for the PSG support as Lucas Moura made his long awaited return in the 72nd minute to replace El Flaco. With Barcelona coming up next week, his return could not be any timelier.
To their credit, Bastia hung in there as much as they could and Thiago Silva had to produce a goal-line clearance with Nicolas Douchez beaten. Had that gone in it would have given the capital club a few jitters.
Thankfully though Cavani made no doubts with a gorgeous header from an Aurier cross in the 80th minute. Then in added time Zlatan threaded El Matador through with a wonderful ball and the Uruguayan did the rest by stroking it into the net. 4-0, game over!
It was an easy victory in the end. The red card of course had a huge bearing on what proceeded. Still, the lads produced a professional display and with that we have retained the cup (our fifth Coupe de la Ligue triumph). We become only the second club to retain in its 21-year history.
This could be the start of something big! One out of the three domestic cups is now in the bag. Matters will immediately switch to Europe and Barcelona on Wednesday. What better way to head into a game of that magnitude than with some silverware under our belt.
Bring it on!