Ibrahimovic, Cavani lead PSG to home rout over Bastia

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty ImagesZlatan Ibrahimovic's backheel goal against Bastia will go down as one of the finest in PSG history.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani featured on a Paris Saint-Germain score sheet for the first time as both grabbed a double in a convincing 4-0 win over SC Bastia on Saturday. Now the trick for Laurent Blanc will be to get the pair playing that well together after both shone in separate halves.

PSG's 1000th match at Parc des Princes was celebrated in style with a stunning goal apiece for both players, but the 4-0 score line did not flatter the hosts who thoroughly dominated their Corsican opponents. Ibrahimovic struck twice in the space of the opening 13 minutes to knock Bastia early on, before Cavani added two more in the second half.

- Report: PSG 4-0 Bastia

Equally as impressive as the prolific duo's goals was that Blanc was able to rotate his side so thoroughly and still come away with a 4-0 winning margin. No fewer than four regular starters were missing through injury or suspension, with another four starting on the bench. Despite that, it was an impressive performance and the side showed a more clinical edge in front of goal than has been exhibited at any point so far this season.

Ibrahimovic is key to it all and once again demonstrated that he remains PSG's main man, as he did against Benfica in the Champions League and Olympique de Marseille before the international break.

His first goal, after 10 minutes, was nothing short of sensational. It is something that will live in PSG folklore long after the Swede has left the club and is up there among some of the best goals ever scored at the Parc des Princes. Ibrahimovic's sheer audacity to try the flick was not surprising, but to make such clean contact and put it in under pressure was remarkable.



A well-taken header followed three minutes later and by half-time Ibrahimovic, who had been rated 50-50 before the match, was able to leave the pitch with his job done. Cavani came on to replace him and PSG continued to pour forward in search of further goals. Seventeen minutes into the second half they got the third through El Matador and another superb piece of individual skill.

Although the sheer genius of Ibrahimovic's finish cannot be debated, Cavani's finish was almost more impressive given that he is not a player renowned for silky dribbles around defenders and goalkeepers followed by finishes from the acutest of angles. That is what the PSG fans were treated to before the Uruguayan international completed the scoring from the penalty spot after former Parisien goalkeeper Mickael Landreau had clumsily fouled the marauding Lucas Digne, much to the delight of the home crowd.

However, outside of the two sensational goals and a superb result, there were plenty of reasons to be happy with the defending champions' performance.

Firstly, 18-year-old Adrien Rabiot enjoyed a great first half performance, demonstrating exactly why he is already challenging for regular involvement even when Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta are not suspended. The teenage youth academy product had a quieter second half, but showed more than enough composure and maturity to continue justifying the hype that surrounds him.

In fact, there was a young core to the PSG team that made the comprehensive victory all the more impressive.

Along with Rabiot, fellow academy graduate Hervin Ongenda is just 18, Brazilian defender Marquinhos is 19, while Lucas Moura and Lucas Digne are relative seniors at 21. Much is made of the capital club's preference for ready-made talent over young promise, but the mauling of Bastia proves that Blanc's young stars are just as effective when given the chance.

Combined with first team members with a point to prove, such as Moura and Jeremy Menez, the hosts looked hungry and purposeful. Despite not scoring, the Brazilian put in an excellent display that was thoroughly worthy of note.

Moura, who has received criticism at club and international level of late, provided the second goal with a pinpoint free kick delivery while also playing an important part in the build-up to Ibrahimovic's spectacular opener. He also created a host of chances on his own and was unlucky not to score from any of them. Lucas deserves credit for a tireless display that was closer to what the PSG fans have been expecting since January than any other showing this year.

Despite the considerable absences, the champions were still able to dominate Bastia possession-wise and enjoyed 60% of the ball for the entire game. Considering how important the three-man midfield had become before the international break, Blanc will be delighted that his side finally coped with just two players in the centre of the park.

The 4-0 score line wipes out Monaco's positive goal difference, meaning that they need a big win at Sochaux on Sunday if they are to overtake PSG at the top of Le Championnat once again. Finally turning their masses of chances into goals, the side from the capital need to replicate this sort of performance on a regular basis to start putting some distance between themselves and Les Monegasques, with the chasing pack already falling behind.

On a day of so many positives, one has gone largely unnoticed: PSG started the game with no fewer than six French talents in the starting XI for the first time this season. Given the fuss made over how the club's domestic contingent has diminished over the past two years, it is refreshing to see that the club demonstrate that it still has a strong spine of French representatives.

Next up, a trip to Brussels to face Anderlecht in the Champions League next Wednesday where PSG aim to make it nine points from a possible nine in Group C.

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