Zlatan Ibrahimovic double earns first win of season for PSG
Paris: Paris Saint-Germain picked up their first Ligue 1 victory of the season, emerging from Lille with a 2-1 success.
Summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the inspiration for the visitors, scoring after just 26 seconds and then striking what proved to be the decisive goal midway through a first period that was played at a breakneck speed. The Swede’s two efforts sandwiched a header from Aurelien Chedjou that briefly brought the scores level.
There had been some doubts over the fitness of the former AC Milan forward coming into this match, but any questions over his ability to perform were cast aside with the quickest goal in France’s top flight this season. Maxwell and Jeremy Menez were heavily involved in a swift move down the left, with the latter releasing Ibrahimovic, whose clipped finish from an awkward angle was befitting his €20 million price tag.
Lille, though, replied with the kind of slick offensive football they have gained a reputation form, and they unsettled the PSG rearguard on several occasions before drawing level. Nolan Roux had the best of these efforts, but his bicycle kick was pushed clear by Salvatore Sirigu.
The Italian could do nothing to prevent Chedjou’s header from a wonderful Marvin Martin corner flying beyond him only a couple of minutes later, though.
At this point the hosts had a good grip of the game, but another fine movement from les Parisiens would see the guests move clear once more. Javier Pastore offered a through pass to Ibrahimovic, who once more displayed a cool head to finish.
On a couple of occasions the striker nearly completed a first-half hat-trick, but his header from a Christophe Jallet free kick went too high, while a free kick was deflected narrowly wide.
After the restart, Lille pushed hard for an equalising goal, dominating possession and territory, and regularly threatening the home regard down the flanks. Salomon Kalou was introduced at the break and offered a direct threat when running at the defence, but even when Lille were able to get a shot away Sirigu was inevitably behind it. On several occasions the home side were able to strike at goal, but the international goalkeeper was never truly stretched.
Although PSG were not controlling matters, they were steady defensively and had the quality to trouble Lille when they did attack. Indeed, Mickael Landreu was forced into the outstanding save of the second period as he touched over a late Ibrahimovic header.
Tulio de Melo did muster a powerful header on goal from a Lucas Digne long throw, but it typified the hosts’ night that it flew straight at Sirigu.
PSG therefore emerged from their toughest fixture of the season to date with maximum points, and have answered some of their critics in the meantime. The challenge really facing Ancelotti, however, is to attain this level of performance from his side on a weekly basis, as they remain six points behind Ligue 1 pacesetters and bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille.