Offshore drilling, France: Paris Saint-Germain 2, at Lille 1

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Man of the Match: Make that Zlatan Ibrahimovic 2, Lille 1. Ibra opened his account in the first minute, redirecting home a Maxwell cross after a clever flick from Jeremy Ménez. In the 21st minute, Zlatan did the work himself, picking a ball up at midfield, running after a pass to Javier Pastore, and splitting Lille’s defense before chipping over Mickael Landreau for the eventual game-winner.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • PSG hands Lille their first loss in the new Grand Stade, earning their first win of the season in the process.
  • They’re three huge points, too. PSG needed a win after a slow start that saw Carlo Ancelott’s team draw opening three matches. Favored to win Ligue 1, PSG was expected to receive their biggest challenge from Lille. Getting three road points on the road should prove extremely valuable later in the season.
  • That’s what made PSG’s early opener so shocking. There was a mild showdown feeling to this one, a aura that dissipated when the Parisians cut through Lille’s defense in the first minute. A bouncing ball to Jeremy Ménez saw the France international use the bottom of his boot to flick a ball toward the sideline. Maxwell sprinted past Marvin Martin and Franck Beria to get behind the Lille defense, his perfect cross giving Mikael Landreau no chance to stop Ibrahimovic’s opener.
  • Eleven minutes later, Lille dispelled any notion it would be an easy night for PSG. After a nice defensive play by Mamadou Sahko gave Lille a corner kick, the PSG defender lost track of Aurelien Chedjou on the ensuing restart. A perfect near-post corner from Dimitri Payet was header through the hands of Salvatore Sirigu, equalizing for the hosts.
  • Lille wasn’t even for long, with Ibrahimovic getting his second nine minutes later. His chip over Landreau gives him four goals in his first three Ligue 1 matches.
  • So why did the match settle from there? Part of the reason was Lille’s inability to craft a final ball, building at will down their left without taking advantage of Payet’s service.
  • Another factor was PSG’s formation. Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi played in the middle of a 4-3-1-2 that forced Lille wide, making it hard for the former champs to come back in.
  • In the second, Lille was the slightly better side, with the halftime insertion of Salomon Kalou from Benoit Pedretti providing the threat they needed to become the aggressors. After an initial adjustment period, Lille continuously threatened a second equalizer.
  • Ultimately, it was PSG that came closer to the fourth goal, with Landreau having to push an 83rd minute Ibrahimovic header over the bar to prevent Zlatan’s first Ligue 1 hat trick. Before that, two strong Lille walls kept Ibrahimovic from converting free kicks from 21-24 yards, though Ibrahimovic did win corners.
  • At 90 minutes, both clubs had showed their quality, though PSG left the Grand Stade with three important points. They move into eighth, six points behind league-leading (and still perfect) Marseille. Lille sits 11th with six points through their first four rounds.