Paris Saint-Germain ended the calendar year in the Champions League with a 2-0 victory at home to Shakhtar Donetsk thanks to goals from Lucas Moura and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The victory was not enough– and to be expected – to win the group as Real Madrid hammered Malmo 8-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu which equalled Liverpool’s record for the biggest victory in the competition.
It was a largely uneventful game in truth at the Parc des Princes. Both sides did have chances but the general standard of play was at the pace of an exhibition. PSG were already thorough and bar a miracle in Spain, the Ukrainians had a Europa League spot sealed by finishing in third place.
Coach Laurent Blanc made a number of changes to his line-up with the players who were out. Zlatan started in the middle of a front three containing Lucas and Ezequiel Lavezzi. Benjamin Stambouli was given a rare start in an all-French midfield alongside Blaise Matuidi and Adrien Rabiot. Young Rabiot has come under some scrutiny this week after admitting he may seek a loan move in January. He can very well be his own worst enemy and after all his good work in the last month, some of the PSG support jeered him for those comments.
Chances were few and far between in the first-half but former Arsenal striker Eduardo missed an absolute sitter as he peeled away from David Luiz but fluffed his lines with the shot.
Ibra very nearly profited from an awful kick by goalkeeper Anton Kanibolotskiy but his attempt to chip him rustled the top of the net.
The breakthrough came in the second-half through Lucas with a beautifully driven shot. Credit must go to Matuidi for his tenacity in the middle of the pitch to keep the ball before laying to Lavezzi who in turn found Ibra to subsequently assist the Brazilian.
The big Swede not only prevented a goal from Shakhtar by clearing off the line but he also sealed matters with a goal himself and with it became PSG’s all-time leading goalscorer in Europe to overtake the great George Weah.
PSG’s Top European goalscorers:
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 17 goals
2. George Weah: 16 goals
3. Edinson Cavani: 11 goals
4. Peguy Luyindula: 10 goals
5. Guillaume Hoarau and Rai: 9 goals
The PSG defence also made history by joining an elite band of teams to only concede just one goal in the group-stage. Les Parisiens become the ninth team to equal this record joining the likes of Manchester United, Juventus and Monaco who accomplished the feat last season.
All eyes now will be on the draw on Monday. By finishing second we stand a good chance of drawing the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the last-16 but with many top teams finishing second as well, it may not be as daunting as we first feared. Nevertheless, the first game will be played at the Parc with the second away from home.
Group A Final Standings
1. Real Madrid / 16 points (+16) 2. Paris Saint-Germain / 13 points (+11) 3. Shakhtar Donetsk / 3 points (-7) 4. Malmo / 3 points (-20)