Ibrahimovic showed he can create goals as Paris Saint-Germain thrashed a shoddy Dinamo Zagreb team 4-0.
Paris: Zlatan Ibrahimovic showed he can create goals just as well as score them by setting up all four as Paris Saint-Germain thrashed a shoddy Dinamo Zagreb team 4-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday. Ibrahimovic spent much of the match walking around and hardly broke into a sweat, but his sublime technique saw him create goals for center half Alex, midfielder Blaise Matuidi, winger Jeremy Menez and striker Guillaume Hoarau. "He played for the team, as he always does," PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said of Ibrahimovic. "He has extraordinary talent. He is a fantastic leader." PSG have nine points in Group A, one less than Porto, and is on the verge of reaching the knockout stages.
Meanwhile, Dinamo's misery continues with a 10th straight defeat, making it the second-worst streak ever in the competition. Dinamo lost all six games last season, conceding a record 22 goals, and has conceded 10 without scoring one in this campaign. "After such a beating you need a good night's sleep," Dinamo coach Ante Cacic said. "When PSG scored its second goal that took our legs away." Cacic felt his team had no chance when Ibrahimovic stepped up his performance. "It's very hard to stick to him like glue," Cacic said. "He's a great player and I don't think we're the only team that will have trouble with him." However, Dinamo had the game's first chance when Josip Pivaric broke into the penalty area and struck a low shot just wide.
PSG took the lead in the 16th minute following some panicky defending in the Dinamo penalty area. Center half Ante Puljic hacked the ball away when goalkeeper Ivan Kelava came to claim it. From the resulting corner, Ibrahimovic swapped passes with Ezequiel Lavezzi and whipped a quick cross to the penalty spot, where Alex volleyed it expertly past Kelava. Ancelotti gave a rare start to Adrien Rabiot, one of two homegrown players in PSG's team, and the 17-year-old fired wide with one effort and almost played Lavezzi through on goal as PSG swept forward. Center half Thiago Silva almost got his head onto Jeremy Menez's corner as PSG pushed for a second goal, and Ibrahimovic went close in the 54th with a spectacular volley from 20 yards out.
Ibrahimovic, who was sent off on Saturday for a high kick on Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier, strolled around, sometimes walking back toward midfield rather than make a run toward goal, giving Silva no options when he tried find him with a long ball. "He can stay back, using his passing, the quality of his passing," Ancelotti said. With PSG not making the most of its possession, Dinamo almost caught the home team out in the 57th when striker Ante Rukavina met a cross from the left with a powerful header that went over. "We had more space in the second half, Zagreb used up a lot of energy in the first half," Ancelotti said. Ibrahimovic took advantage of that in the 61st with a sublime pass that split Dinamo's fragile defense in two and allowed Matuidi to cut in from the right and slip a shot through Kelava's legs.
"We went forward with intensity, and I think we saw a beautiful PSG in the second half," Matuidi said. "We're now in position to go through. That was the aim." Ibrahimovic's pass for the third goal came after a flowing move, with Lavezzi flying down the wing to meet the Swede's pass and squaring the ball back to him. Ibrahimovic then picked out Menez breaking from the left and the France winger cut inside his marker brilliantly before beating Kelava with a curling shot in the 65th. Ibrahimovic was by now unstoppable and shrugged off center half Domagoj Vida before playing another pinpoint pass to Menez, but this time Menez hesitated rather than shooting, and came unstuck as he tried to take the ball around Kelava.
Ibrahimovic's next assist in the 80th was an extraordinary display of balance, as he ran onto a pass, slipped over, but somehow hooked the ball back with his trailing leg to find Hoarau about 10 yards (meters) out. Ibrahimovic missed a great chance to notch his 13th goal of the season when he went clean through in the last minute, but the ball got tangled in his feet. He still had time to almost set up a another goal in stoppage time, but his pass just eluded Hoarau. The match was entertaining on the pitch, and trouble free off it, despite fears of more fan violence. Twenty-eight people were arrested the night before the match after a brawl in central Paris between PSG and Dinamo hooligans.
At least two people were injured in the fight near the Bastille. The Croatian fans weren't allowed to buy tickets for the Tuesday match and were banned from France amid fears of hooliganism. About 100 PSG supporters were turned back from the Croatian border ahead of the Oct. 24 match to head off similar problems. The atmosphere around Parc des Princes was tense before the match, with police cordoning off several areas and monitoring the people coming out of subway stations.