Ibra double gives PSG first win
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to earn Paris Saint-Germain their maiden victory of the 2012-13 season as the big-spending capital club beat LOSC Lille Métropole 2-1 on Sunday.
LOSC Lille Métropole 1 - 2 Paris Saint-Germain
With Carlo Ancelotti's men travelling north after three successive draws with which to start the season, many billed Lille as a make-or-break encounter. Less than a minute in, Ibrahimovic ensured it would be the former as he opened the scoring. Though Aurélien Chedjou equalised 11 minutes later, Ibrahimovic struck again on 21 minutes to ensure the short trip home was a happy one.
PSG had failed to find the net in their two previous league encounters with their last strike the 90th-minute Ibrahimovic penalty which salvaged a home draw with FC Lorient in Week 1. It took the Swede just a further 27 seconds, however, to end that drought. Jérémy Ménez's eye-catching cameo in last Sunday's goalless draw with Girondins de Bordeaux earned him a place in the starting XI, and his ball released Maxwell - the full-back re-found Ménez, whose cross was deftly turned beyond Mickaël Landreau by Ibrahimovic.
Despite the early setback, it was the hosts who dictated the pace of the opening exchanges, though their lack of precision as they neared Salvatore Sirigu's goal meant they failed to trouble the Italian. In such cases, a set piece can always offer a solution, and a corner provided Lille with succour. Dimitri Payet, who reportedly almost joined PSG before opting for Lille when he left AS Saint-Etienne just over a year ago, provided the delivery and Chedjou escaped the attentions of Mamadou Sakho, pipped Ibrahimovic to the ball and headed home.
Though often useful inside his own penalty area, the towering former AC Milan forward is much more at ease at the opposite end of the pitch, and was quickly given the opportunity to prove it as he soon put PSG back in front. Ibrahimovic himself robbed Idrissa Gueye in midfield before exchanging passes with Javier Pastore and clipping the ball joyously over the on-rushing Landreau. Those wondering why PSG were ready to pay €20m for his services should consider that the strike made it four goals in just five shots on target for Ibrahimovic.
The charismatic striker was in almost irresistible mood, and after showing his altruistic streak to attempt - in vain - to release Ménez, he got on the end of Christophe Jallet's cross, but could not keep his header from sailing over the bar. He came closer still to completing his hat-trick just before the break. In a carbon-copy of PSG's second goal, Pastore freed Ibrahimovic only for Landreau to stick out his right foot and block the goalbound effort.
With his team struggling to find their famed poise and flair further up the pitch, Lille coach Rudi Garcia added Solomon Kalou to the fray in place of the more prosaic Benoît Pedretti at the break. The Ivorian's arrival did little to augment the hosts' potency though with left-back Lucas Digne the most active Lille player when his team moved forward, and the youngster's wayward crossing from the flanks meant lone striker Nolan Roux continued to be starved of service.
The arrival of the freshly signed Ryan Mendes and Tulio de Melo, the hero of Lille's qualification for the Champions League in midweek, failed to inspire the hosts, who perhaps paid the physical and psychological toll of their 2-0 defeat of FC København to reach the group stages of European football's premier club competition on Wednesday. Kalou did sting the hands of Sirigu with a long-range drive, but Ménez also had an opportunity to add to the scoreline only for Landreau to once again deny his former club. The Lille number one also pawed away a top-corner-bound Ibrahimovic header in the closing stages to deny the PSG forward a hat-trick, the sole disappointment for the Swede in an otherwise glorious evening.