Pastore shines as PSG get back on top
By S. Willis
Argentine superstar Javier Pastore marked a return to form with a goal and an assist as Paris Saint-Germain beat Ajaccio 4-1 to return to the top of the table. Jérémy Ménez, Guillaume Hoarau and Nene also found the target.
Paris Saint-Germain 4 - 1 AC Ajaccio
Pastore was back to his best as PSG re-took top spot on the table - a point above Montpellier - with a devastating attacking display that put an end to a run of three consecutive draws and maintained coach Carlo Ancelotti's undefeated record at the helm of the capital club.
Despite their promoted status, Ajaccio are no easybeats and made life tough for PSG in the second half, but the Corsican defence - anchored by Mexican superstar Guillermo Ochoa in goals - had no answers as the Paris forwards wowed the Parc des Princes faithful with the fluid attacking play to match their mammoth price-tags.
Pastore gets the ball rolling
Top of the lot was Pastore, however, and it was the Argentine who broke the deadlock, working a neat one-two with Blaise Matuidi before racing into the area to confidently beat Ochoa at his near post for his eighth of the season (27').
It was the lanky playmaker's first strike since Week 20, but there was more to come as PSG's number 27 turned provider minutes later. A deft pass to the left gave Ménez the space he needed in the area, the France international - fresh from impressing in France's 2-1 win over Germany in mid-week - doing the rest with a neat check and stunning looping shot over Ochoa and into the top corner (29').
The tide was definitely in PSG's favour, but Ajaccio's Yoann Poulard kept the fizz in the match by pulling one back just before half-time with an unstoppable shot after Salvatore Sirigu could only parry Fousseni Diawara's initial effort (42'). Olivier Pantaloni's fearless side could smell an upset in the wind and pushed hard early in the second half, Damien Tibéri going desperately close (51'), but Paris quickly regained the upper hand.
Hoarau calms PSG nerves
Nonetheless, Ancelotti's men struggled to find the goal to restore their two-goal buffer, but certainly not for want of trying. The attacking trio of Pastore (62'), Nene (71', 82') and Hoarau (84') wreaked havoc going forward, but Ochoa, the woodwork and tight angles conspired to deny them.
With five minutes of regulation time left, however, Paris wrapped up the three points in style as resurgent striker Guillaume Hoarau, who was preferred to out-of-form France team-mate Kévin Gameiro, got PSG's third.
The exhausted Ajaccio defence could do little as the excellent Nene's through-pass found the lanky striker and Hoarau produced a delightful finish for his fourth of an injury-ravaged season (86'). And to put the cherry on top, Brazilian Nene turned in Clément Chantôme's far-post cross to take his season tally to 13 (90'+3) with a richly deserved goal.
Title race hots up
The result sees Paris turn up the heat in the race for the title, not only taking them a point clear of Montpellier but also suggesting that Ancelotti's men are starting to really gel as a team - a team who will not give up the fight to bring the Ligue 1 crown to the capital for the first time since 1994. Meanwhile Ajaccio remain stuck in the relegation zone in 18th place, with just one win in their last five league matches.