• Paris maintain top spot in Group F with 3-1 win against Ajax
• Edinson Cavani opens scoring with fourth goal in competition this term
• Davy Klaassen heads level; Zlatan Ibrahimović and Cavani respond
• Paris need draw at Barcelona to finish top; Ajax require point versus APOEL for third
• Next games: Barcelona v Paris, Ajax v APOEL (10 December)
Paris Saint-Germain continued their charge to seal first place in UEFA Champions League Group F with a 3-1 success against AFC Ajax.
Already through to the last 16, Paris required a win to maintain pole position ahead of FC Barcelona, who kept the pressure up by defeating APOEL FC. Edinson Cavani opened the scoring just after the half-hour, and although Davy Klaassen headed level, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Cavani responded to leave Paris needing a draw in Spain on 10 December to top the section – and Ajax chasing the same result against APOEL to finish third.
Forced to field a makeshift midfield due to a flurry of injuries, the hosts seemed disjointed in the early moments, despite Ibrahimović's first outing on the European stage since matchday one. Instead, Ajax made the brighter initial impression, pressing their opponents high up the pitch and moving the ball around with confidence.
Their early momentum was briefly disrupted by an injury to left-back Nicolai Boilesen – Nick Viergever taking over – but they were soon camped out in Paris's half again. Clear chances were another matter altogether, though, and it was the home side who enjoyed the first, Ezequiel Lavezzi firing at Jasper Cillessen after being sent scampering clear by Ibrahimović.
Looking vulnerable on the break on that occasion, Ajax were exposed in a similar vein on 33 minutes. This time, the results were more far damaging, with Ibrahimović and Lavezzi involved once again. The Sweden forward released his team-mate in behind the defence and, as Cillessen came out to challenge, Lavezzi rolled the ball left for Cavani to finish into an empty net.
The goal may have come against the run of play, but it changed the complexion of the match. The French champions suddenly appeared more comfortable, and they maintained their calm after the interval – to the point, perhaps, of letting their concentration slip. That was certainly how it seemed midway through the half when Klaassen was allowed to spear a diving header past Salvatore Sirigu from Ricardo Kishna's excellent deep cross.
Paris needed to wake up or slip down to second in the group, and not for the first time Ibrahimović provided the solution, controlling a pass from Javier Pastore and swivelling to lash a superb effort inside the far post. The heavens then opened above the Parc des Princes and when it rains, of course, it pours – Cavani pouncing on a back pass from Niki Zimling and rounding Cillessen to put the result beyond doubt.