Ibrahimovic at the double as PSG go five pts clear
PARIS (AFP) –
Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic extended his league leading goal tally to 24 as his brace inspired Paris Saint-Germain to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Nancy at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
The victory gives the capital side a five-point cushion over second-placed Lyon, who host Marseille in the final match of the weekend on Sunday.
Elsewhere in Ligue 1, relegation candidates Evian thrashed Sochaux 5-1 and Troyes eased past Reims 4-2 respectively as both teams took a huge step towards avoiding the drop.
Toulouse rode a goal on the stroke of half-time from 17-year-old Adrien Rabiot, who is on loan from PSG, to edge Brest 1-0 while Ajaccio moved further away from the bottom three with a valuable 1-0 home win over Britanny side Lorient.
Finally, Brazilian striker Tulio de Melo fired home with eight minutes remaining to put Lille on the way to a 3-1 win over Valenciennes and lift the club back into the race for European places as they went fifth.
Earlier in the day, former England captain David Beckham came on in the second half as PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti protected a late 2-1 lead on what was an unexpectedly hard afternoon’s work on a sun kissed day in Paris.
Ancelotti himself said his team were struggling for energy after a hard week that saw them qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of Valencia.
“I knew beforehand it would be very difficult,” said the Italian, who urged his men to snap out of it in the second period.
“Two-and-a-half days after a Champions League match you can’t have the same intensity,” he reflected.
“Today the team was tired and the next week will be important for our recuperation,” added Ancelotti, who lauded Ibrahimovic.
“He is a great goalscorer, fantastic – he never loses confidence. He is a great player.”
After Nancy took a shock lead on 36 minutes, Ibrahimovic struck twice in three minutes early in the second half to ensure a successful week’s work for PSG.
On 59 minutes, the normally reliable centre-back and captain Sebastien Puygrenier failed to control a routine ball at the top of the area which allowed Jeremy Menez to pounce and touch the ball forward for Ibrahimoivc to tuck away the equaliser.
The goal changed the match, bringing the crowd back into the tie, and three minutes later PSG were in front following another disaster in defence, this time by Damien Gregorini.
A ball over the top of the back-four landed outside the box but although Gregorini arrived first to meet it, he completely miskicked allowing Ibrahimovic to run past him and stroke the ball into the empty net.
Nancy coach Patrick Gabriel was frustrated.
“We almost pulled it off and there are no regrets but it’s disappointing to play the match we did and lose because of two big mistakes.”
Nancy took the lead on 36 minutes on the counter through Cameroon international Benjamin Moukandjo.
PSG’s Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore carelessly gave the ball away just inside his own-half, allowing Djamel Bakar to find Moukandjo.
Although his initial shot was blocked by Sirigu, the 24-year-old kept his composure to skillfully head the ball into the net despite the presence of defender and home captain Thiago Silva on the goalline.
It was only a matter of minutes after the break before the home side deservedly equalised and went on to win with Beckham making a late cameo after being an unused substitute against Valencia.