Pastore shines in PSG romp
Javier Pastore provided two assists as PSG hammered Differdange 4-0 to all but wrap up qualification for the Europa League group stage. Rennes were 2-1 winners in Belgrade while Sochaux drew 0-0 in Kharkov.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
UEFA Europa League Play-offs, 1st leg
Differdange 0 - 4 Paris Saint-Germain
Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg
The footballing world has been waiting to see how Javier Pastore would adapt to life in Paris, and on Thursday night - although not fully fit - the Argentine international gave a glimpse what he is capable of with two assists on debut to help PSG take a commanding 4-0 lead into the second leg of the Europa League play-off tie with Luxembourg side Differdange.
Pastore's sublime skills were on display from early in the match - a neat turn here, a backheel there - but it wasn't until the match was almost over that he really hit his stride, first setting up Marcos Ceara with a crafty chip to score PSG's third (90') and then, a minute later, playing Jérémy Ménez through to hammer home a fourth unanswered goal (90'+1).
Kévin Gameiro, whose instant understanding with Pastore sparkled with promise for the season ahead, scored PSG's opener after Blaise Matuidi's 30-metre cannonball was turned into his path (17'), but it wasn't until the 71st minute that Paris managed to widen their lead.
The excellent Ménez mystified the Differdange defence before unleashing a fierce shot that could only be deflected into the path of youngster Jean-Christophe Bahebeck, the 18-year-old capping a rare start with a decisive finish (71').
Paris now turn their attention back to Ligue 1 - where they will be looking for their opening win of the season at home to Valenciennes on Sunday - before mixing it once again with the Luxembourg side in the return leg of this Europa League play-off tie at the Parc des Princes.
Red Star Belgrade 1 - 2 Rennes
Stadion FK Crvena Zvezda, Belgrade
Rennes got an early scare at a packed 'Marakana' in Belgrade as Red Star's Brazilian midfielder Kadu score from the spot in the 17th minute, but newly signed Burkina-Faso international Jonathan Pitroïpa turned in yet another scintillating performance to turn the game around.
Pitroïpa used his considerable pace to spring the home defence and level the scores (41') before, with a quarter of an hour to go, sublimely played in Colombia striker Victor-Hugo Montaño for the winner (75') that puts the Breton side in pole position to qualify for the group stage ahead of the return leg in Rennes next week.
Metalist Kharkov 0 - 0 Sochaux
Metalist Stadion, Kharkov
Sochaux got the job done in their play-off tie with Ukrainian side Metallist Kharkov, holding firm to secure a 0-0 draw that leaves them in a strong position for the return leg next week. Mécha Bazdarevic's men conceded just two shots on goal from the Kharkov attack, rarely looking troubled and even going close to bagging a precious away goal through Vincent Nogueira (35') and Damien Perquis (40').