Ibra leads PSG to first home win
Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, centre, is congratuled by teammates after a goal against Toulouse
PARIS, France ● Star signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his fifth goal of the season as Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 2-0 in the French league on Friday.
The Sweden striker tapped in from close range midway through the second half after Argentina midfielder Javier Pastore had given PSG the lead late in the first half. Ibrahimovic also scored both of PSG’s goals in a 2-1 win away to Lille on Sept. 2.
PSG, which drew its first three games, moved provisionally into third place with nine points ahead of this weekend’s matches.
“I think we played well tonight,” PSG coach Ancelotti said. “Our last two wins are good for confidence, and we will keep getting better.”
Also Friday, defending champion Montpellier lost 3-1 at Reims — its third defeat of the season.
“It was tough for us tonight, we can only regret what’s been happening lately,” Montpellier coach Rene Girard said.
Pastore struck in the 38th minute when he ran onto Marco Verratti’s lofted ball over the defence and lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Ali Ahamada as he rushed off his line.
Despite gritty defending from Toulouse, PSG gave itself some breathing space when France winger Jeremy Menez set up Ibrahimovic to score from close range in the 69th.
PSG spent around C150 million on new players to prepare its bid for domestic and European success, and Ibrahimovic has taken little time to settle since joining from AC Milan.
He drew an early save from Ahamada, and sealed PSG’s win with a well-earned goal. Pastore released Menez down the right as he broke the offside trap, and he squared the ball to Ibrahimovic, Serie A’s top scorer last season.
The win will boost PSG’s confidence ahead of Tuesday’s home match against Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League.
Meanwhile, ahead of Tuesday’s match against Arsenal, Girard gambled on leaving France centre half Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, wingers Remy Cabella and Anthony Mounier, and striker Souleymane Camara on the bench.
The move backfired as Brazilian midfielder Diego Rigonato gave newly-promoted Reims the lead in the 38th minute. Cabella scored two minutes after coming off the bench to equalize in the 55th with virtually his first touch of the game.
Montpellier fell behind again midway through the second half when centre back Christophe Glombard scored, and substitute Gaetan Courtet came on to make the points safe in the 86th.
John Utaka had a good chance to put Montpellier ahead midway through the first half but goalkeeper Kossi Agassa saved with his legs. Utaka then went off with what looked like a groin injury, and was replaced by Camara.
Reims went ahead when Rigonato ran onto Nicolas Fauvergue’s defence-splitting pass and coolly slotted the ball under goalie Geoffrey Jourdren’s body as he came off his line.
Cabella levelled when he gathered the ball in midfield, sprinted forward, swapped passes with Belhanda and volleyed the ball past Agassa, but Glombard’s goal was even better and he then set up Courtet.
“If we can keep playing like this, then I think we can definitely stay up,” Fauvergue said.