PSG sign off record-breaking season in style
Paris Saint-Germain ended the 2013-14 Ligue 1 season on a high with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Montpellier HSC at Parc des Princes on Saturday. With the capital club’s first run of back-to-back titles -- as well as a maiden league and domestic cup double -- Laurent Blanc’s men increased their record number of wins in a single season to 27. PSG also finished the campaign with 89 points, beating Olympique Lyonnais’ previous record haul by five.
Ezequiel Lavezzi set the tone for an evening of wild celebration in the French capital, putting the champions ahead after just two minutes. Zlatan Ibrahimovic then ended his relative goal drought of four league matches with the second on 20 minutes. Two goals were not enough to satisfy Les Parisiens, though, and the hosts went on to increase their lead, with Lucas Moura scoring his second in as many games four minutes into the second half. Adrien Rabiot was then left to complete the scoring in the 88th minute, putting the icing on an impressive 4-0 triumph.
Despite a number of positives -- notably the brilliant performances of Lucas and Pastore -- Ibrahimovic was once again the headline act. The Swede, on a rare run of dry form following injury, was the architect behind Lavezzi’s early opener. Zlatan’s deep cross was parried by Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren to Christophe Jallet, and although his initial effort was saved, El Pocho was there to poke home his ninth Championnat goal of the season. It was Zlatan's turn to score 18 minutes later. Pastore’s perfectly weighted pass over the defence sat up nicely for Ibrahimovic to slide the ball past Jourdren to double PSG’s lead.
With that goal -- his 26th in Ligue 1 this season -- the 32-year-old became the first player to score more than 25 goals in consecutive seasons since Carlos Bianchi did so in 1977-78 (37) and 1978-79 (27).
Second to Ibra, but only marginally, was Brazilian sensation Lucas. Since he was initially left out of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s provisional FIFA World Cup squad for the host nation -- now on the Selecao’s standby list -- the 21-year-old has been on fire. Moura could have bagged his first after 13 minutes, but his wicked deflected effort hit the post. Instead, the Samba star had to wait until the 49th minute -- and another sublime Pastore assist -- to make it 3-0, beating Jourdren at his near post with a clever finish.
Lucas may only be on Scolari’s reserve list for now, but the Brazil coach must be sorely tempted to include the Parisien star in his final 23-man squad now that he has seen the reinvigorating effect that his snub has had on Moura. World Cup or no World Cup, if Lucas starts next season as he has finished this one, he will be like a brand new signing.
This is the Lucas Moura that PSG thought they were getting in January of last year when he arrived from Sao Paulo.
Pastore is also showing new signs of life after a difficult campaign. His two assists for Ibrahimovic's and Lucas’ goals were throwbacks to the player the capital club fell in love with in his first season in France, but even that might not be enough to save his skin this summer now that PSG’s financial fair play (FFP) fate is known. Some players will have to leave because the UEFA Champions League squad is being reduced to 21 from 25 and with eight domestic talents needed, Pastore could be one of the foreign talents that is sacrificed.
Edinson Cavani is less likely to be one of those names joining the Argentine, though, reassuring the Parisien fans that he is “sure” that he will stay in Paris this summer and play at Parc des Princes again next season.
In addition to Ibrahimovic's, Lucas' and Pastore’s impressive performances, Adrien Rabiot and Kingsley Coman -- two of PSG’s inexpensive homegrown talents -- also caught the eye with vibrant displays. Coman was given only a 27-minute cameo with which to impress, but Rabiot played the full 90 -- for only the second time in the league in 2014 -- and completed the scoring with a fourth for the capital club’s final goal of the season. The 19-year-old sealed an impressive individual performance by tapping in after Coman had seen his effort saved.
This mauling of Montpellier befitted a side that has just enjoyed one of the best seasons in the club’s history. Not only did Blanc’s men add to already impressive records on the night, Monaco’s home draw with Girondins de Bordeaux means that PSG finish the campaign nine points clear of the principality outfit.