Paris: Paris Saint-Germain bounced back from a run of poor domestic form to beat FC Porto 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday and seal top spot in Group A. In a closely contested match, Brazil center half Thiago Silva headed PSG in front in the 29th minute, only for Colombia striker Jackson Martinez to equalize four minutes later.
It was another South American, Argentina winger Ezequiel Lavezzi, who scored PSG's winning goal in the 61st. The win will boost PSG's morale and life some pressure off coach Carlo Ancelotti following three losses in the past five league games and last week's elimination from the League Cup quarterfinals.
PSG top the group with 15 points. Porto is next with 13, while Dynamo Kiev finished third to reach the Europa League. PSG started brightly and winger Jeremy Menez slipped the ball in behind the defense for Javier Pastore, whose first-time cross was met by striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the near post to flash wide across goal.
Menez was involved again in the 10th minute, running onto midfielder Blaise Matuidi's clipped pass over the defense and hitting a dangerous low cross that was cut out for a corner. Shortly afterward, Martinez had Porto's first shot following a lost possession by Silva, but his fiercely struck effort flew past the right post.
Menez was PSG's most dangerous player in the first half and it was his darting run down the left which drew a foul and led to the opening goal. Maxwell whipped in a free kick, and Silva rose above the defense to nod the ball in off the underside of the crossbar. Poor marking from Silva, however, allowed Martinez to sneak in behind at the back post and head in right back Danilo's cross from the right.
PSG combined spells of electric attacking moves with periods of disjointed play and a lack of ideas. Porto's seamless passing and movement, allied to athletic running down the flanks, gave the Portuguese side a more cohesive look. PSG goalkeeper Helton's agility kept the scores level at the break. Ibrahimovic almost lobbed him with an instinctive snap header after latching onto Silva's headed flick on in the penalty area.
PSG should have gone ahead early in the second half when Alex's pass released Menez down the left, but he took too long to line up his shot and that allowed Danilo time to close him down. Menez's fine dribbling ability goes in tandem with his wasteful finishing, and he confirmed his reputation as an inconsistent scorer when he blasted the ball straight at Helton after Javier Pastore had played him in perfectly.
PSG then went ahead following a quickly worked corner. Menez passed to Lavezzi, and Helton allowed his low shot to squeeze past him and into the bottom corner. Porto missed a great chance to equalize when Martinez found space inside the penalty area, only to be denied by a point-blank save from goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu in the 79th. The rebound fell to Lucho Gonzalez, who blazed the ball high over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy, prompting howls of derision from the crowd at Parc des Princes.
Ibrahimovic, who had a quiet match, was jeered by the home fans for trying an extravagant shot from 25 meters, rather than pass the ball to an unmarked Menez breaking down the right. To make matters worse, the imposing Swede then shot wide from six yards after Helton had parried Pastore's shot to his feet. Pastore, having his best game of a troubled season in which he has been in and out of the team, went close with a glancing header in the 88th.