Ibra hat-trick caps fine night for PSG
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain handed Valenciennes FC a first home defeat of the season, sweeping aside the northerners 4-0 on Tuesday.
Valenciennes FC 0 - 4 Paris Saint-Germain
Ligue 1's top scorer added to his pre-match tally of 14 after 29 minutes at the Stade du Hainaut before scoring twice more in the space of four minutes in a formidable onslaught early in the second-half (50', 54') before Lavezzi (83') gave the visitors the impressive margin of victory they deserved. Carlo Ancelotti's men, who have won three successive matches in all competitions, are two points behind leaders Olympique Lyonnais, who play bottom side AS Nancy Lorraine on Wednesday.
Average away, excellent at home, Valenciennes unsurprisingly settled quickly, and Salvatore Sirigu touched a Foued Kadir shot onto a post before the Italian goalkeeper was called upon once more to help out his defence when Nicolas Isimat-Mirin flicked on a corner. When Mathieu Dossevi eased clear of Thiago Silva, expectation from the home fans grew, but the challenge of Maxwell, excellent in recent weeks, dashed their hopes of an opening goal.
Instead, the pre-match expectations of many home fans – namely, that their side would not be able to contain the visitors' stars – became reality. Jérémy Menez and Javier Pastore combined for the former to cross, and though Nicolas Penneteau pushed out the ball, Ezequiel Lavezzi was following up; the Argentine's shot was cleverly diverted into the net by Ibrahimovic.
The goal seemed to sate the visitors, who rarely came close to troubling Penneteau again before the break. They did have to descend rather rapidly from cruising altitude when Alex sustained an injury which forced him off a minute before the interval, though the arrival of Mamadou Sakho, exactly a month after his last L1 appearance, to replace the Brazilian quickly restored the status quo.
Ibrahimovic is hardly a man who could be described as enjoying the quiet life, and the Swedish international snapped into action soon after the restart to take his side clear of their hosts. Menez and Pastore were both involved again, the latter smashing a shot goalwards after the former's cross had been only half-cleared – when Penneteau parried Pastore's effort, Ibrahimovic snapped up the rebound hungrily.
And still the 31-year-old retained an appetite for more, and it was served to him on a plate by Menez, whose pace was too much for Rudy Mater before the former AS Monaco player unselfishly teed up Ibrahimovic to strike into the unguarded goal. Had Penneteau not turned aside a free-kick from Ibrahimovic soon after and then held Pastore's follow-up, PSG might have run up a cricket score.
Instead, they decided not to embarrass their overwhelmed opponents, though Menez, who miskicked when set up by Ibrahimovic, and Blaise Matuidi, whose shot left the woodwork shivering on an icy evening, might have. Lavezzi did add a fourth seven minutes from time, the Argentine building on his maiden L1 goal scored in last weekend's win over Evian Thonon-Gaillard FC as PSG won 4-0 for the third time in four L1 outings.