Lavezzi Gets Off the Mark, PSG Into Last 16

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty ImagesEzequiel Lavezzi finally got off the mark for PSG; now, the big challenge for 'les Parisiens' is to translate European form into Ligue 1.

Almost five months after moving from Napoli, Ezequiel Lavezzi opened his Paris Saint-Germain account as Carlo Ancelotti's side secured safe passage to the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine.

The Argentine has had to endure a frustrating start to life in Paris but finally got off the mark with a double in Kiev whilst Salvatore Sirigu put in a faultless display in goal and Nene demonstrated to his coach that there is still life in the old dog yet. Yet Lavezzi's final return to scoring form was undoubtedly the biggest plus point of the evening.

Still reeling from their second consecutive home defeat of the season, Ancelotti opted to shuffle his pack, bringing back Zlatan Ibrahimovic following his domestic suspension and keeping Nene in the side following his strike against Rennes. It didn't take long for the Swede to get back into his groove, notching his fifth assist of the season after playing a neat one-two with Lavezzi before the Argentine finished with a cool chip over Maksym Koval on the stroke of half-time. Although often looking rigid and at times inflexible, PSG's attacking riches were too much for Kiev who still carved out a number of opportunities.

Lavezzi though once again proved the difference between the sides in the second half, profiting from Blaise Matuidi's good interception after some lacklustre Kiev defending to present the Argentine with the easiest of finishes. Lavezzi, who did so well for Napoli in last season's competition, did well and put recent injury woes aside in only his seventh appearance for the club. Praise must also go to Nene, who enjoyed a superb performance and demonstrated his continued importance to the side despite not finding the net. His lively presence gave PSG's attack a sense of width and directness only otherwise offered by Jeremy Menez.

While les Parisiens' attack was in clinical form, goalkeeper Sirigu was more worthy of being recognised as the match-winner. The Italian shot-stopper produced a handful of top quality saves to keep PSG in the game -- two in particular were phenomenal reflex blocks. All told, it was the team's third clean sheet in the competition thanks to Sirigu, despite Thiago Silva doing his best to throw that away at the end of the match as Kiev came close to pulling one back.

The performance was more balanced than recent domestic showings from Ancelotti's side and the midfield trio of Matuidi, Marco Verratti and Momo Sissoko looked solid if unimaginative. Despite admitting that his side were "in crisis" days prior to the match, the real test for 'Carletto' will now come against Troyes at home at the weekend as PSG try to move back into contention at the top of Ligue 1.

The Kiev result means that the capital club are not only France's sole representative still left in Europe's elite competition, but also that a win against Porto in the final Group A match will see the team progress as group winners. Yes, perhaps it was not the strongest group on reflection but you can only beat the teams put in front of you. The challenge for Ancelotti now is to ensure that the team avoid complacency in the league and carry across that same focus and determination to the French league. Nobody expected the Italian to work wonders in Europe overnight but they do expect his side to be comfortable league champions; after all, it is in Ligue 1 that his work will be judged, not their maiden Champions League voyage under new ownership.

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