Zlatan steals show against Sochaux
By I. Holyman
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice and set up another two goals as Paris Saint-Germain swept aside FC Sochaux-Montbéliard 5-0 on Saturday.
Paris Saint-Germain 5 - 0 FC Sochaux-Montbéliard
Paris' Swedish superstar had admitted he - like his team-mates - had been below par in defeat at Evian-Thonon-Gaillard FC on Wednesday, but made rich amends at the Parc des Princes. He teed up Thiago Silva (14') for the opening goal and supplied Edinson Cavani (62') with the third after the visitors had gifted Ezequiel Lavezzi PSG's second just after the break. After seeing Cavani move level with him on 11 league goals for the season, Ibrahimovic smashed home a free-kick (87') and - following an unselfish pass from Cavani - slotted into the net from close range to lift his team four points clear at the top.
PSG set out with the clear intention of making amends for their midweek slip. Only Carlao's brilliantly-timed tackle stopped Blaise Matuidi getting a clear run on goal before Ibrahimovic daintily shifted the ball onto his left foot on the edge of the box and smashed a shot that arced narrowly wide of the far post.
With Simon Pouplin sidelined with a shoulder injury sustained in the midweek defeat to Stade de Reims, Pierrick Cros was given his first start of the campaign, and did not disappoint, particularly in twice denying Cavani, who must have thought he had beaten the young Sochaux goalkeeper with a measured effort from just outside the penalty area only for Cros to stretch out his left hand to divert the ball behind.
It proved to be only brief respite for the visitors, however, as from the resulting corner, PSG moved ahead. When the ball dropped to him on the left-hand side of the area, Ibrahimovic waited before clipping a delightful pass to the back post where Silva stole ahead of Julien Faussurier to volley home. Another Carlao challenge stopped Thiago Motta's goalbound shot before Cros halted an uncharacteristically weak Ibrahimovic effort.
Aside from a promising break by Emmanuel Mayuka, Sochaux had little to show for their first-half efforts, but could still have found themselves level at the break. Rooted to the spot having anticipated wrongly, Salvatore Sirigu watched helplessly as Sébastien Corchia's free-kick bent beyond his far post in added time.
Sochaux would undoubtedly have hoped to push PSG in the second half, but Loïc Poujol's backpass was cut out by Thiago Motta who rolled the ball into the path of the onrushing Lavezzi, who simply had to sidefoot comfortably into the net and cut short the visitors' ambitions. Any lingering hopes were extinguished when Ibrahimovic spied the run of Cavani and found the Uruguayan with an inch-perfect lofted pass - the former Napoli striker's first touch was sublime, his second, decisive.
Substitute Rafael Dias brought a save from Salvatore Sirigu, who then turned aside a stinging Mayuka volley before Ibrahimovic wrestled the limelight back onto himself. Having won a free-kick on the edge of the box with some inventive play, he swapped finesse for raw power to bullet his set-piece beyond Cros before tapping home his 13th of the L1 campaign in added time to extend PSG's unbeaten home record to 21 league matches.