Paris Saint-Germain vs. Saint-Etienne: Winners and Losers from Ligue 1 Clash
French champions Paris Saint-Germain spectacularly bounced back from a disappointing draw at Evian Thonon Gaillard last week by comprehensively dismantling a weary AS Saint-Etienne side 5-0 at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.
UEFA Europa League duty had taken a lot out of Christophe Galtier’s men—not to mention deprived them of one or two key players—and two games in the space of three days proved too much. But that should not take anything away from les Parisiens, who were excellent, particularly in the second half.
Talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned from a minor injury to plunder three goals, while strike partner Edinson Cavani scored with a sublime finish and ASSE goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier posted his contender for gaffe of the season, putting through his own net in comic fashion.
That emphatic victory sees PSG rise to second in the early season Ligue 1 table, with Ibrahimovic shooting to the top of le Championnat’s goalscoring charts.
Coach Laurent Blanc was delighted with the way that his players bounced back from that insipid goalless draw with Evian last week. Speaking to PSG.fr shortly after the match, he said:
It was a very good result, it shows in the standings. The most important thing is to have played well in front of our supporters, with lots of chances to score. This week in training, we could feel the side getting stronger.
I'm very happy with the way the team played tonight. We always see the attacking side, but I'm also very pleased with the defensive side, because we were very solid and in the big matches, that is often the difference.
Here are some winners and losers from PSG’s 5-0 rout.
Winner: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Restored to the PSG starting XI after missing the dour 0-0 draw against Evian, Ibrahimovic immediately showed his team-mates what they were missing in Annecy. Back to his talismanic best, the Swede played as if he had not just recovered from an injury.
Once again the focal point of les Parisiens’ attack, the 32-year-old’s bullet header to make it 2-0 put the game beyond a weary Saint-Etienne side before it was even half-time. He then added a simple second just after the hour mark, before bagging a clinical third 10 minutes after that.
Those goals fire Ibrahimovic up to five for the season, two clear of a host of other Ligue 1 stars. However, the towering PSG No. 10 was not happy with Blanc’s decision to substitute him immediately after the third, suggesting that the player was not 100 percent fit in the first place.
Galtier and his Saint-Etienne players will not want to imagine what a fully fit Zlatan would have been like in this sort of form.
Winner: Edinson Cavani
Despite being overshadowed by Ibrahimovic once again, Cavani finished the evening having proved a point to PSG.
The Uruguayan bagged himself the goal of the night less than 60 seconds after his strike partner’s second, and it will give him a major boost in confidence once Ligue 1 resumes after the international break.
Edinson Cavani: Only Ibrahimovic (30) and Gignac (19) have scored more goals in Ligue 1 since the start of last season than Cavani (18) #psg— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 31, 2014
Although his goal did not require Ibrahimovic’s assistance, the jump in performance with the Swede back in the team after a sluggish performance against Evian was considerable. Performances like this spell out the simple truth: Cavani plays better alongside Ibrahimovic. They can co-exist.
Winner: Loic Perrin
Although his teammates were busy getting ripped apart by Ibrahimovic and PSG on Sunday night, Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin can console himself with the fact that les Verts’ defence just did not look the same without him.
The 29-year-old suffered an injury in the Europa League victory over Kardemir Karabukspor just days before the game and missed out on the trip to the capital.
5 – St Etienne have lost by a 5+ goals margin, their heaviest defeat in Ligue 1 since November 1995, v Auxerre (0-5). Crushed.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) August 31, 2014
Moustapha Bayal Sall tried his best to compete with the physical threat posed by Zlatan in Perrin’s absence, but ultimately he was unable to live with the Swede.
Perrin has enjoyed a number of duels with les Parisiens’ No. 10 in the past, and he will feel that he could have shackled the semi-fit Zlatan had he not been forced to sit the game out.
Loser: Stephane Ruffier
There is no question that the big loser on the night at Parc des Princes was Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.
Normally such a solid and reliable goalkeeper, the French international had one of those nights that players want to forget immediately. Receiving a back pass from ASSE captain Jeremy Clement in the 24th minute, Ruffier managed to mis-control the ball and put it into the back of his own net.
It was a horrendous moment from a player who has become one of Ligue 1’s leading goalkeepers in recent seasons, and hopefully it will not affect him too seriously.
Loser: Blaise Matuidi
With Yohan Cabaye suspended, Laurent Blanc was left with few options but to sacrifice one of Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti or Blaise Matuidi in order to continue to accommodate the in-form Javier Pastore.
It was the latter who missed out on the night, starting on the bench and making an appearance as a second-half substitute.
The Argentinian was superb in his 100th match for the capital club, and although Matuidi does not have cause for concern just yet, the French international will not want to be kept out of the team for much longer.
Loser: Lucas Digne
It has been an encouraging start to the season for PSG left-back Lucas Digne, but the French international had to settle for a place on the bench as Maxwell was restored to Blanc’s starting XI for the Saint-Etienne clash.
Although Digne can consider himself unlucky to lose his place, the 21-year-old cannot argue that it was the right decision to play the experienced Brazilian in hindsight.
Maxwell, also in his 100th PSG match like Pastore, provided the inch-perfect cross for Ibrahimovic’s bullet header towards the end of the first half and put in a solid overall performance. In that sort of decisive form, the 33-year-old might now have played himself back into Blanc’s first-choice XI.