Jinxed Ibrahimovic pulls strings in PSG triumph

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Ezequiel LavezziGettyImagesArgentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi celebrates after scoring.

Paris Saint-Germain escaped from Ajaccio's Stade Francois Coty with a narrow 2-1 win to go five points clear at the top of Ligue 1. Laurent Blanc's side had found themselves behind early on, but fought back to take three vital points in a game where the defending champions were not at their best. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Blaise Matuidi cancelled out Eduardo's early opener for the hosts, with PSG showing enough character to scrape the victory.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal jinx against the Corsicans continues, although the Swede was still able to provide two decisive assists to seal the 2-1 come-from-behind victory. The talismanic striker has failed to score in three of the four games PSG have played against Les Ours since he arrived in the French capital but, in truth, the 32-year-old looked jaded following his prolific exploits against Stade Brestois in midweek.

- PSG extend lead at the top

Ibrahimovic still had enough in the tank to prove decisive though and that was the Parisians' saving grace.

The Swede added the penultimate touch to a brilliant sweeping move, featuring Edinson Cavani and Matuidi, that Lavezzi profited from as he did against Brest in the Coupe de France on Wednesday. Ibrahimovic had thumped the foot of Mexican international Guillermo Ochoa's post earlier in the first half, but that was as close as he would come to scoring himself. Instead Ibra made do with playing the role of provider one more time; heading an inch-perfect Javier Pastore pass into the path of Matuidi, who bravely headed home for 2-1.

On as a substitute for the final 18 minutes, the Pastore's vital contribution was another major positive. Five minutes into his cameo, El Flaco produced some dazzling footwork before producing the splendid pass that found Ibrahimovic. Although it only proved to be a fleeting return to the form that Blanc and the PSG fans know that he is capable of, he must now cling to this and use it to build up some momentum. Laurent Blanc took a gamble in bringing the enigmatic playmaker on in the search for a winning goal and he was rewarded for his bravery. Pastore now needs to continue to repay his coach's faith to resurrect his career by producing more moments of magic like that.

Pastore's compatriot Lavezzi scored again for the second time in the same week, moving up to three league goals for the season. But while his overall contribution still leaves a lot to be desired, El Pocho is now finally bagging goals and has pulled level with Lucas Moura as PSG's third-highest league goal scorer this campaign. The Argentine, despite scoring the crucial equaliser, does have a tendency to let matches pass him by. This one was no exception and, aside from the goal, he did little else of note. While he and Moura may have scored the same number of goals, the Brazilian has contributed four more assists this term and is still arguably more valuable to the side. Lavezzi still needs to provide more often if he is to make the spot on the left of the front three his own.

Apart from that, it was a far from perfect performance.

As expected following the rearranged cup clash in midweek, PSG were tired and Ajaccio were able to take them by surprise with an early goal, while being roared on by a raucous capacity home crowd. Blanc's players' ball retention was less polished than usual and there were some sloppy mistakes made, particularly in defence. The champions also appeared to lack ideas at times, underlining the continued need for more creativity in the midfield.

What really mattered though was the result. The 2-1 win moves PSG five points clear of title rivals AS Monaco, with Lille OSC only able to close the gap to four points at best. Having failed to take their last few chances to establish a significant gap between themselves and their two rivals at the top, Blanc's side have now done that. As he said post-match: "It is these sorts of games, when you are not at your best, that win or lose you titles."

All things considered, it has been a very good week for PSG, with progress in the Coupe de France, despite a rearranged fixture, followed by another win in the league. The victory is also made more important considering that it came against a side that they had only beaten once in seven attempts prior to this weekend. Next up are Blanc's former side Girondins de Bordeaux in the Coupe de la Ligue quarterfinals on Tuesday, before Sunday's Championnat clash with FC Nantes.

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