ZLATAN LEADS PSG'S ANDERLECHT ROUT
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and PSG took Anderlecht to school as they trampled the Belgians by scoring five times, with four of them being registered by the Swede and the other from Edinson Cavani in Brussels on Wednesday night.
Sacha Kljestan started for Anderlecht after sitting out the 2-0 victory down in Mons on Friday, having just returned from national team duty. A notable absentee was Silvio Proto, who was out due to injury. Belgian U-21 Thomas Kaminski got the call to play between the sticks for the Belgian champions.
From the kick-off PSG acted as if they weren't going to let the Belgians play with the ball and Ibrahimovic had an early chance but was flagged off sides in the fourth minute, giving les Mauves a preview of what was to come.
Anderlect then charged down the field and Aleksandar Mitrovic almost put the hosts ahead with a header but Salvatore Sirigu managed to stretch and jump and claimed the ball. Four minutes later the Serbian hit the ball from distance, forcing the Italian keeper into making an acrobatic save.
In the 12th minute Ibrahimovic was played through the middle and beat the off sides trap but in not very typical Zlatan fashion, he wasn't able to hit the target, sending the ball wide of the near post from eight yards out.
Anderlecht finally settled into the game and were putting on a half decent defensive display although on the long ball the Swedish striker seemed to have little problem getting around Cheikhou Kouyate and his defensive unit.
It took all of 17 minutes for the Swede to start his goal-fest. What looked like it would be squared for a pass across goal, the man from Malmo, from a tight angle slotted the ball from the right and beat the young Kaminski between the sticks.
A couple of minutes later Chancel Mbemba whipped in a cross that team captain Guillaume Gillet hit first time but Sirigu thankfully watched it whiz over his cross bar.
Five minutes after his first net rippler, Ibrahimovic doubled his tally on the night.
This time the cross was provided by Edinson Cavani and was again slotted past Kaminski and the near post.
Left back Maxwell and left wing Ezequiel Lavezi, with a little help from their Swedish team mate toyed with the right side of Anderlecht's defense, moving the ball back and forth as Gillet and Mbemba tried to chase them down but usually in vain.
When the clock struck 36 minutes Ibrahimovic completed a true soccer, hat trick, scoring all three goals in a row in one half of the game. This was however was very special; from about 25 yards out he belted a screamer that Kaminski could only watch burn the back of his net.
"Part of me wanted to kill Zlatan and part of me wanted to clap for him also," Kljestan told Yanks Abroad after the game. "You saw the supporters of Anderlecht even gave him a standing ovation for that goal. It's something you can appreciate."
Anderlecht came out of the blocks to start the second half with a bit more purpose and won an immediate corner. The ball was whipped into the box by substitute Frank Acheampong to Mbemba, but headed out for another corner and then another. The danger was eventually cleared by Frenchman Blaise Matuidi. A minute later however Gillet tested Sirigu from 12 yards out but the Italian got down low very quickly and made the grab.
Down the other end Tiago Motta picked out the Swede's run but as soon as he touched it, the off sides flag went up.
The Parisians scored again in the 52nd minute but this time it wasn't Ibrahimovic but his Colombian team mate Edinson Cavani.
A little purple pressure began with Kljestan's free kick, which developed into a few passes and ended with Acheampong's close range shot that Lavezzi got a foot to and deflected out of danger. The Belgians began to look like they could score.
Youngster Dennis Praet and Mitrovic linked up after the Belgian stole the ball in the middle of the park. The 19 year old burst into the box but his tender years revealed his inexperience and he ended up blowing a scoring opportunity.
A couple of minutes past the hour mark Ibrahimovic hit his fourth and sixth of the competition when Cavani played the long ball and picked him out allowing the Swede to bang it across goal and into the back of the net.
The French team, content with their night's work, started to play more defense after that. A Kljestan to Praet to Acheampong link-up turned out to be an almost shot on goal for the man from Ghana but it was turned away. Again Acheampong had a shot but it was deflected for a corner. The Belgians were getting a lot more possession but seemed clueless about how to break down the back four.
With 15 minutes left in the game a bad Parisian clearance ended up at the feet of the American midfielder and the Californian decided to pull the trigger from 25 yards out. It was a shot that went wide of the near post however.
After Kaminski made a double save from Swedish and Uruguayan attempts in the 86th minute, it looked like Cyriac was going to score at the other end when the Ivorian turned two defenders in the box and got off a hard shot but Sirigu came up big to preserve his clean sheet.
Kljestan spoke about what went wrong for the Belgian champions.
"The plan was to stay in position and not give up too much. We knew they were going to attack on the sides but we didn't defend well on the left side in the early part of the game and that cost us dearly."
The American could also see the positives for his team of very young players afterwards.
"We started the game not bad. We created a few chances; we had a few set pieces but you know, like I said, the plan was to just stay in our positions and not let them play behind us."
"We gave up two easy goals from the left side of our field. It was just disappointing. Other than that if we could have kept the game 0-0 until half time anything else would have been possible."
There was no way of denying the class of the opposition however.
"They had control of the game for sure; they had time and space. They were calm and created their chances making it very difficult for us, the Seton Hall alumni continued. "It's always frustrating when you lose; but we have to admit that PSG is at a different level than Anderlecht. They're very strong and they're going to go far in the Champions League this season. We have to admit that but we could have done better."
Anderlecht will line up this weekend against first place Standard Liege in Pro League action.