Ibrahimovic inspires PSG to crushing win over Sochaux

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Franck Fife/AFP/Getty ImagesPSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored twice against Sochaux, will take a rest Tuesday when Les Parisiens face Benfica.

Paris Saint-Germain hit back in superb style after the surprise midweek loss to Evian Thonon Gaillard FC with a thumping 5-0 win over struggling FC Sochaux-Montbeliard on Saturday. The Parc des Princes was treated to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired display of sheer dominance as the defending champions ran riot against a hapless Lionceaux side who are rooted to the foot of the table. As well as the double from the Swede, Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani were also on the scoresheet with Ibra providing on two of them.

- Match report: PSG 5-0 Sochaux

Laurent Blanc's team led 1-0 at half-time and arguably should have been further ahead, but stormed to an ultimate 5-0 thrashing thanks to a rampant second half showing. Herve Renard's men had looked like they might be able to sneak something from the match towards the end of the first half once they had stemmed the early tide, but PSG's trademark domination of the ball eventually told.

The hosts made a number of changes from the side that slumped to defeat in Annecy on Wednesday: Alex, Maxwell, Thiago Motta and Lavezzi all coming in. Marquinhos, Lucas Digne, Adrien Rabiot and Jeremy Menez made way, but Christophe Jallet, somewhat surprisingly, kept his place. The result? A much-improved showing to follow up last week's comprehensive 4-0 home win over Olympique Lyonnais, going one better to cruise to a 5-0 final score. It is the fourth time that PSG have netted four or more goals in Paris this term.

Despite the many positives from the game, the highlight was once again Ibrahimovic. What can be said about him that has not already? Even before he bagged the first of his thoroughly deserved double, he was controlling the match and chasing a hat-trick of assists. As it was, he finished with the pair of assists and an excellent double. His afternoon started by creating Silva's opener after just 14 minutes with an exquisite chipped pass to the back post. An outrageous ball in for Cavani to bag the third on 62 minutes was even better before the Swede went on to close the show.

Displaying solid unity with his Uruguayan strike partner after Cavani was cautioned for diving in trying to win a penalty in the 84th minute, Ibrahimovic leapt to his teammate's defence but was shown yellow for arguing his case. He only had to wait three more minutes before he could blow off some steam though. An 87th minute free-kick was dispatched with real venom past the beleaguered Pierrick Cros, before Cavani turned provider three minutes later to allow Ibra to double his tally from close range after good work from substitute Lucas Moura. For the first time, the often-criticised strike pairing provided a goal for one another in the same game to silence their detractors.

Those two strikes move Ibrahimovic onto 13 league goals for the season, with Cavani two behind on 11, both pulling clear of AS Monaco's Radamel Falcao who is still stuck on nine. However, it is the 32-year-old's overall statistics since the start of his time in the French capital that tells the most about his contribution. In 50 Ligue 1 matches, the towering striker has scored 43 goals and assisted 14. Extend that to all competitions, Ibrahimovic has 56 goals and 22 assists from just 68 appearances.

Another impressive performer on the day was Lavezzi who, after receiving criticism of late and seeing his name linked with a move away in January following his recent comments, scored a much needed goal early in the second half. There was more than a hint of offside about the finish, but the Argentine’s work-rate on the day was excellent and he linked up extremely well with Ibrahimovic and former SSC Napoli teammate Cavani. Lavezzi's confidence will have been boosted by the goal and the 28-year-old justified Blanc's decision to start him.

However, El Pocho can't rest on his laurels there because he needs to be contributing in this sense or laying on a goal almost every game to justify his continued inclusion. Despite a very positive display, Moura has still arguably done more over the course of the season to justify starting ahead of the Argentine.

Also impressive was the ever-dependable Blaise Matuidi who put in an all-action performance before being substituted early. Silva was excellent at the heart of the defence, while Motta was restored to the midfield with brilliant effect. Unselfishly, the Italian international found himself in front of goal with a clear chance to score early in the second half, but instead of going for goal, Motta only had eyes for the pass to Lavezzi and demonstrated real team spirit teeing him up. Marco Verratti was also impressive, showing some deft touches, while Cavani took his goal well and Moura looked lively when brought on.

Javier Pastore was jeered upon entering the pitch late in the second half, a disappointing reaction from the fans even if the Argentine's poor showing in midweek warranted a bit of stick. The enigmatic playmaker continues to bewilder though, tripping himself up when in a good position to pass as the sum total of his afternoon's work.

Overall, a thoroughly convincing victory for PSG and Sochaux's miserable run in the capital continues at 18 without a win. The reaction that Blanc was looking for from his players post-Evian was evident and, although this sort of result was arguably expected against their basement-dwelling visitors, the champions asserted their full authority over the match and it told by full-time: 68% overall possession and PSG's unbeaten home record in the league stretches to 21 matches.

Next up are SL Benfica in the Champions League on Tuesday.

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