PSG overcome Bastia after calling on Big Guns

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Franck Fife/Getty ImagesJeremy Menez, left, capitalized on Mickael Landreau's error to score PSG's first goal.

Paris Saint-Germain's 3-1 win over Bastia at the Parc des Princes Friday gave the hosts a six-point lead over Lyon at the top of Ligue 1.

Carlo Ancelotti's men notched the victory against a determined Corsican side despite a number of star names beginning the evening on the bench, perfect preparation for Tuesday's trip to Valencia in the Champions League. While no means a comfortable game, particularly in the first half, PSG's quality told in the second.

The Italian opted to make five changes from the side that convincingly beat Toulouse last week It told in the first 45 minutes as, despite creating a number of chances, the capital club struggled to make the breakthrough.

Bastia looked resolute and up for the fight, but a lack of quality going forward was only temporarily masked by Florian Thauvin out wide, who looked to get in behind the PSG defence on a number of occasions. He was well-marshalled by veteran Sylvain Armand, who partnered the returning Alex in the absence of Mamadou Sakho and looked solid.

Starting in place of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was Kevin Gameiro, who attempted to make the most of his opportunity. However despite a positive start, the French international and Jeremy Menez, Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore failed to find the breakthrough. Despite help on the flanks from Gregory van der Wiel and Maxwell, they only really threatened briefly. Gameiro came closest, hitting the post from Menez's low cross, but it was taking les Parisiens too long to get going. The early goal that was forthcoming the week before in Toulouse evaded Ancelotti's side, and their frustration was reflected in their play.

When that happens to PSG it usually takes a moment of inspiration or sheer luck to get them going, and they got it this time from Menez. Running onto Pastore’s pass, the Frenchman darted inside of two defenders before firing in a low shot from the edge of the box. Mickael Landreau should have done better, and given the goalkeeper's history in the capital, the home fans were delighted to jeer the veteran's misjudgement.

The goal marked an improved second half for Menez after a first that had seen him frustratingly erratic, a shot in the arm for a player who has found himself in and out of the team of late under the weight of increased competition

It appeared to be the spark that Ancelotti's side needed as they continued to press with Menez and Moura at the fore. The Brazilian, who until then had been PSG’s best player and certainly their most enterprising, underlined his continued importance by winning a penalty that settled the hosts’ nerves 15 minutes after the opener.

Moura was brought down on the edge of the area right on cue - just moments after Ibrahimovic had been introduced. The Swede dispatched with confidence and took his season tally to 21 goals in 21 appearances.

At that moment, it looked as if Salvatore Sirigu’s unbeaten record in goal was going to last. However, it ended abruptly at 949 minutes without conceding and out of nothing. Wahbi Khazri, only on as a substitute minutes before, thumped an arcing free kick in from long range that David Beckham would have been proud of.

A shock for PSG, and it could have gotten worse if van der Wiel's interception moments later had not been inch-perfect. Sakho's presence felt in defence with Silva still missing and absent once again in Valencia.

The capital club weren't to be denied the win though, as Ezequiel Lavezzi - on as a replacement for Moura shortly after he won the penalty - tapped home from Clement Chantome's low, parried cut-back. It was a thrilling four-goal second half on paper, but in reality it was a routine win for Ancelotti's men and welcome preparation for Valencia without having to move out of second gear.

Three goals perhaps flattered the hosts, but there can be no doubt that the win was deserved. The victory could have a huge impact on the title race given second-placed Lyon’s clash with Lille Sunday. PSG's four wins on the bounce has moved them clear of the chasing pack. Valencia on Tuesday before travelling to Sochaux next Sunday night - it is a big week for the club.

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