PSG v Marseille - Round II
Paris Saint-Germain beat Marseille 2-0 for the second time in consecutive matches at the Parc des Princes, but this time in more convincing fashion to reach the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France. Following his 15-minute debut on Sunday, David Beckham got an extended full debut and looked impressive, but it was a double from the heavily criticised Zlatan Ibrahimovic that saw Carlo Ancelotti's side into the draw for the last eight. Their reward is a trip to Annecy to face Evian.
Before dissecting Beckham's performance though, it would be foolish to suggest that the win was not largely down the performance of the capital club's other superstar Ibrahimovic. Whether the Swede was feeling under pressure with the news that PSG are plotting a bid for Manchester United's Wayne Rooney in the summer, or he was spurred on by the immense criticism he received for a disappointing showing on Sunday, he was in superb form.
His double, one a well-taken but fortunate finish after latching onto a sublime Clement Chantome pass and using his impressive strength to hold off OM defender Lucas Mendes and the other a penalty, make it five goals in just three matches against les Phoceens. That is the 31-year-old's most against any opponent in France.
It was a superb reaction after Sunday's booing from crowd for a quiet performance, yes one was a spot-kick but he needed an immediate reply to the criticism, particularly after coach Ancelotti and Sporting Director Leonardo weighed in to fight his corner in the press before the match too.
He didn't disappoint, and after a slow start he left his mark on the game, and Joey Barton. After a strong aerial challenge on the Englishman, Barton reacted childishly by miming Ibra's big nose as the Swede took the high ground. It was the Marseille man's most notable contribution to the game for the visitors.
Just as well, because shortly after kick-off it was announced that the former AC Milan man will potentially miss an extra Champions League match should the capital club dispose of Valencia in the last 16.
But yes, once again it was impossible to escape the topic of Beckham before and after the match. Thankfully, the content was as positive after the 90 minutes, of which the former England captain played 86, as it was pre-match. But the 37-year-old deserves every bit of praise after an impressive showing that built strongly upon his opening 15 minutes on Sunday.
Playing just in front of the defence, Beckham once again belied his much-criticised age with a comfortable performance. There were flashes of vintage Becks with some lovely crosses and expert passing as the Englishman was dominant in the first half and although he slowed a little in the second, it was confirmation of what we'd known since Sunday. Beckham has a big part to play in this team, and a larger one than most expected when he arrived.
Goldenballs starting was one of eight changes Ancelotti made to Sunday's victorious side in a risky move, but it paid dividends with a number of strong performances from the supporting cast on the day. Zoumana Camara and Mamadou Sakho did as well as Sylvain Armand and Alex had done on Sunday. Gregory van der Wiel was also superb at right back in his strongest performance of the season. Jeremy Menez was captain and replaced Lucas Moura who missed out through flu, and Kevin Gameiro was given a rare start alongside Ibrahimovic.
OM were poor though and contributed to the win by failing to replicate Sunday's impressive performance. Barton in particular was a shadow of the player we saw three days previously and the Ayew brothers' petulance when in contact with Beckham was as laughable as Jordan's hairstyle. The Englishman even saw yellow late on after Ayew junior fouled him and then attempted to punch him as they fell to the floor.
A massively satisfying win for PSG over their bitter rivals with Ibrahimovic and Beckham massive plusses. A trip to Evian is the reward in the next round, avoiding potential banana skins at Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux and Lorient. Reims next up in Ligue 1 on Saturday evening where Beckham will no doubt take some rest as Ancelotti shuffles his pack once again.
PSG v Marseille - Round II