Paris St. Germain returned to Ligue 1 action following the winter break in comfortable fashion, as they ran out 2-0 winners over struggling SC Bastia at the Parc des Princes. First half goals from Thiago Motta and Maxwell were enough for Les Parisiens to cruise to victory over the Corsican side, thus extending their lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table to a scarecely believable 22 points.
Laurent Blanc decided against making any changes for the hosts, continuing with the same side that defeated Caen 3-0 before the winter break, with the result that Edinson Cavani was left on the bench as Lucas Moura, Angel Di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic started up front. The visitors made two changes to their side with Florian Marange and Brandao replacing Floy Ayite and Florian Respentino respectively.
First Half :
PSG laboured to a 1-0 victory over fourth tier ES Wasquehal in the French Cup at the start of the year, and the Parisians looked to still be in slumber as they yielded the advantage to Bastia in the opening stages of the game. It was the Corsicans who had the first shot of note, with Manchester City loanee Seko Fofana’s vicious long range effort narrowly swerving past the left upright in the 17th minute.
PSG took the lead against the run of play in the 29th minute, as Les Rouge-et-Bleu profited from poor defending by Bastia. Angel di Maria swung in a vicious corner that found Thiago Silva unmarked at the far post. The Brazilian’s header squirmed underneath the Bastia keeper Leca and was prodded over the line by Thiago Motta to give PSG the lead.
Les Parisiens should have doubled their lead in the 33rd minute, as Maxwell found himself in space on the left and delivered a sweet cross that should have been headed home by Lucas Moura.
Maxwell decided to show Moura how it’s done minutes later, as Di Maria clipped an equisite pass into the Brazilian’s path. Bastia defender Gilles Cioni managed to get a touch, but it only served to tee up Maxwell, as the Brazilian smashed a lovely Van Basten-esque volley from an acute angle with his left foot to double PSG’s lead in the 39th minute.
Second Half :
PSG continued their dominance into the second half, as Di Maria found David Luiz with an equisite cross, but the Brazilian’s header came off the crossbar. The Argentine created another chance in the 56th minute, as a neat one-two with Ibrahimovic allowed Di Maria to set up Serge Aurier, but the right-back’s heavy touch allowed Julian Palmieri to clear.
The Corsicans had to rely on more last ditch defending minutes later as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was denied a goal by Sebastien Squillaci’s brilliant block after the Swede was in space in front of goal after a swift exchange of passes with Marco Verratti.
Kevin Trapp nearly gifted Bastia a route back into the game in the 70th minute, dropping the ball from a free-kick at the feet of Bastia midfielder Axel Ngando, but Ibrahimovic managed to clear the danger and spare his keeper the blushes.
Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura spurned late chances to triple PSG’s lead as the half ended, but it mattered little as the final whistle blew, thus giving PSG their 17th win in 20 Ligue 1 games this season.Published 09 Jan 2016, 11:28 IST