It was a strange game yesterday versus Nantes. The 4-1 win for the champions sounds comprehensive but it was not all plain sailing by any means. The home team were by far the better side in the first-half and fully deserved their 1-0 lead heading into the interval. But, a goal within a matter of minutes from the restart by Zlatan Ibrahimovic changed the complexion of the game.
As expected Laurent Blanc made changes to the team that beat Guingamp. This was no surprise with the trip to Ukraine coming up ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Shakhtar. The likes of Benjamin Stambouli and Layvin Kurzawa came into the side. Lucas Moura started in place of Edinson Cavani who would come off the bench to score a vital header.
The first-half was as poor as we have played for quite a while. We just could not get out of second gear. It was les Canaris who were posing the questions, buoyed on by a rampant Stade de la Beaujoire crowd. They took the lead in the 11th minute through Yacine Bammou, who used to work in the PSG club shop. We failed to clear our lines from a corner and Valentin Rongier played in a teasing cross for the Moroccan to head home past Kevin Trapp.
Three minutes later he very nearly made it 2-0 from another header but was denied by the woodwork. The cross was beautifully put in by Alejandro Bedoya who did Marquinhos for pace. A lot of their joy came down the right-hand side. Kurzawa had his hands full in the opening 45 minutes. He was poor in truth but Javier Pastore who was helping on that side too did not cover himself in glory.
We settled from the half hour mark. Plenty of possession but created very little with it. Half-time could not have come at a better time.
Thankfully, we were on level terms within minutes into the second period. Kurzawa took a throw-in to Pastore who lobbed the ball into the box for Angel di Maria whose volley was saved by Remy Riou but was unable to prevent Ibra from stabbing in the rebound. That goal now puts him one shy off Pauleta’s club record (109).
‘El Matador’, Cavani, who came on for Lucas who had a poor game by his standards, was able to get his head on a Di Maria freekick at the near post to put us into the lead in the 73rd minute. The Uruguayan who is in a rich vein of form, netted his sixth league goal of the season. It was a trademark run towards the near post from him but the ball in by Di Maria was just as good.
The £44m man from Manchester United then sealed it in the 80th minute to bag his second consecutive goal, three now in total, with a diligent lob over Riou. Pastore played a simple ball over the top for his compatriot who showed composure to lob the Frenchman.
Serge Aurier made it 4-1 in stoppage time with an acrobatic volley which was Marco Van Basten like via a Pastore corner. JP’s second assist of the game.
We consolidate our position at the top of the table. Cavani who spoke after the game and as quoted by the club’s official site, said that the squad has been more determined after the recent international break. He said; “It’s important to have won. It’s not always easy at the moment. It’s good that we’re on top of the standings. Nantes played very well in the first half, with lots of intensity. We showed more determination and desire after the break. That’s what wins matches, desire”.