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Saint Etienne vs. PSG: Winners and Losers from Ligue 1

Andrew GibneyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2016

Saint Etienne vs. PSG: Winners and Losers from Ligue 1

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    PHILIPPE DESMAZES/Getty Images

    Paris Saint-Germain extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 24 points Sunday night after a 2-0 win over Saint-Etienne at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

    Two second-half goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave the away side the three points, the 13th and 14th goals the Swedish forward has scored against Les Verts since moving to France.

    Saint-Etienne battled well in the first half, limiting PSG's time on the ball, breaking up the tempo of the game and trying to hit manager Laurent Blanc's team on the break.

    However, in the second half, manager Christophe Galtier's men didn't have the quality to push forward in the final third. Kevin Trapp was rarely troubled in the PSG goal and when Ibrahimovic put his team 1-0 up, the result was all but guaranteed.

    Good play between midfielder Lucas Moura and Serge Aurier created space down the right, the Ivorian defender's cross finished by Ibrahimovic at the back post.

    A late goal sealed the result and PSG remain unbeaten in the league for 32 games, matching FC Nantes' 21-year record. Although, Nantes' record occurred during the same season.

     

    32 - Paris are unbeaten in their last 32 league games (W29, D3), matching the longest ever run in Ligue 1 (Nantes in April 1995). King.

    — OptaJean (@OptaJean) January 31, 2016

     

    Here are the winners and losers from PSG's 2-0 win over Saint-Etienne.

Winner: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    PHILIPPE DESMAZES/Getty Images

    There is no team in Ligue 1 that Zlatan Ibrahimovic enjoys playing against more than Saint-Etienne.

    Going into Sunday's game, the Swedish talisman had scored 12 goals in 11 games against them, and 90 minutes later the tally had grown to 14 in 12.

    Ibrahimovic finished at the back post twice, once after a lovely move between Lucas and Serge Aurier, then converting midfielder Angel Di Maria's mis-cued shot. The second couldn't have come easier to the forward, who barely had to move—but it was Zlatan in the right place, at the right time.

    That takes his total this season to 19 in Ligue 1, the same number he finished with last term.

Loser: Benjamin Stambouli

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    Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

    Blanc handed Benjamin Stambouli has eighth start of the season on Sunday, as the former Montpellier midfielder was paired with Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta.

    Without midfielders Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti, it would be partly Stambouli's responsibility to add some creativity to the PSG play, but before he was removed with around an hour on the clock, he failed to stamp his authority on the game.

    According to WhoScored, Stambouli touched the ball the least out of all the outfield players who started the match and didn't make one key pass.

    If the midfielder wants to find more playing time for the Champions, he will need to do more when given an opportunity.

Winner: Kevin Malcuit

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    JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/Getty Images

    It is always difficult to play against the French champions, especially when a team is struggling for solutions to consistent offensive problems this season.

    Playing on the right of Saint-Etienne's five-man defence, 24-year-old Kevin Malcuit put in a solid performance Sunday.

    Was impressed with Kevin Malcuit this evening. Worked hard defensively and tried to make things happen. #ASSE pic.twitter.com/j3KrZZf8WV

    — Andrew Gibney (@Gibney_A) January 31, 2016

    Not only was he active on the defensive end, putting in a number of good tackles and important blocks, but he looked to get down the right flank and play dangerous crosses into the box.

    Unfortunately the young defender was on the losing side at the end of the match, but he should be pleased with his performance.

Loser: Jean-Christophe Bahebeck

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    Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

    Sunday night was a chance for Jean-Christophe Bahebeck to build on his recent form and make a telling impact against his parent club—but the young forward, despite a lot of huff and puff, failed to make a telling contribution against Paris Saint-Germain.

    Two shots, none on target and just one key pass. As well as trying to score past the Parisian giants, his job was to supply striker Alexander Soderlund, but with only 25 touches all game, it was also a frustrating night for the Norwegian forward.

    Bahebeck will need to improve his big-game mentality if he wants to become a first-team player in Blanc's squad.

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