Brilliant PSG set new record points tally
By A. Scott
Paris Saint-Germain have set a new record for the most points in the first half of a Ligue 1 season after outclassing SM Caen 3-0 in Normandy on Saturday, Ángel Di María scoring twice either side of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic thunderbolt.
SM Caen 0 - 3 Paris Saint-Germain
Di María gave PSG the lead in the 16th minute at the Stade Michel-d'Ornano and there was no way back for Caen after Ibrahimovic doubled the visitors' advantage nine minutes from half-time with a stunning first-time strike from 25 yards that gave Rémy Vercoutre in the home goal no chance.
A delicate Di María finish made it 3-0 five minutes after the restart as Paris moved on to 51 points, one more than the previous best tally halfway through a top-flight campaign set by Olympique Lyonnais in 2006-07.
Laurent Blanc's side also maintained their unbeaten record in domestic competition that stretches all the way back to March, and their run of 28 Ligue 1 games without loss is a new club record, eclipsing the previous best from 1993-94.
Blanc sent out his strongest side, minus the injured Edinson Cavani, and Caen were simply no match. The Normandy outfit had the game's first attempt, Ronny Rodelin's cross-field ball finding Vincent Bessat, who controlled before slicing wide, but otherwise Paris dominated and their first-half performance was masterful.
Against a team as well organised defensively as Caen, it needed the quality passing of Marco Verratti to find a way in behind. The Italian's ball over the top found the run of Serge Aurier down the right, and while his ball across goal was blocked by Syam Ben Youssef, Di María was on hand to convert the follow-up.
The Caen goal led a charmed life midway through the first half when Paris were denied four times in very quick succession. First Vercoutre saved from Ibrahimovic and Lucas, before the Swede hit the underside of the bar and tried a spectacular overhead kick that the Caen 'keeper pushed away.
Vercoutre - who was at Lyon in that 2006-07 season - also blocked a Lucas piledriver soon after but there was nothing he could do to keep out Ibrahimovic's strike. Chaker Alhadhur intercepted Lucas on the edge of the box but the Swede did not think twice as he volleyed the loose ball high into the top-right corner for his 15th Ligue 1 goal of the campaign.
Paris did not let up in the second half and Di María got his sixth Ligue 1 goal in the 50th minute, beating Vercoutre with a neat chip from six yards after Lucas had headed down a Maxwell cross.
Lucas and substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi might have added further goals after that, while Ibrahimovic was flagged offside when he contrived to hit the post when it seemed easier to score, and Caen could not even take the opportunity to grab a consolation goal when they won a penalty inside the final 10 minutes.
Thiago Silva was penalised for pushing Delort as the striker attacked a Dennis Appiah right-wing cross at the near post. Delort got up to take the award but Trapp got down low to his right to save, partially atoning for his error that gifted Lyon a goal in last week's 5-1 win over OL at the Parc des Princes. It was a chastening afternoon for Caen, although their pain will be soothed by the fact that they end 2015 in the top four.