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Ibrahimović imperious as PSG sink Benfica

Paris Saint-Germain FC 3-0 SL Benfica
Zlatan Ibrahimović struck an early opener and headed in a second after Marquinhos had also found the net in a thrilling first-half display.

Ibrahimović imperious as PSG sink Benfica
Ibrahimović imperious as PSG sink Benfica ©UEFA.com

Paris Saint-Germain FC took control at the top of Group C with a scintillating first-half display that swept aside SL Benfica 3-0, Zlatan Ibrahimović registering twice at the Parc des Princes.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc could hardly have asked for a more emphatic performance to mark his 100th day in the hot seat, his side consigning Benfica to their joint-heaviest UEFA Champions League reverse. A hungry-looking Ibrahimović made the breakthrough before the Eagles had properly settled, and the elegant No10 made sure of sending the hosts three points clear with half an hour gone after Marquinhos had doubled the deficit.

Ibrahimović explained in the build-up that he is not concerned by his reduced scoring rate this term, but a forward never loses his taste for goals and the Swedish international – who celebrates his 32nd birthday tomorrow – was delighted to give PSG a barnstorming start. The game was less than five minutes old, in fact, when Marco Verratti fed Gregory van der Wiel on the right wing and the full-back delivered an excellent low cross for his team-mate to slot in with ease.

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus had anticipated that this match would be decided by possession, and his charges struggled for time on the ball as they sought to recover. An over-hit Guilherme Siqueira effort indicated their desire, but PSG were too fluid for them to contain and struck again with a sumptuous move after the visitors had failed to clear a corner.

Once again, Ibrahimović was involved, back-heeling to Verratti, who sent Matuidi to the byline with a superb scooped pass; when the midfielder's cross was diverted by goalkeeper Artur, 19-year-old defender Marquinhos was there to bury his second strike in two games at this level. Benfica then lost Ljubomir Fejsa to injury, and worse was to come when Ibrahimović headed in from a Thiago Motta corner.

Jesus brought on forward Lazar Marković after the break, and Ezequiel Garay soon made Salvatore Sirigu work from a curling free-kick, yet Benfica's renewed conviction came to little. Supremely at ease, Les Rouge et Bleu never looked unduly rattled – not even when substitute Miralem Sulejmani broke free and tested Sirigu with a powerful low strike.

Instead, Blanc's troops were able to hoard the ball whenever required, and they remained a threat at the other end too, Artur denying substitute Lucas and Ibrahimović missing the chance to complete his hat-trick from the rebound. Benfica's No1 then kept out Edinson Cavani, but nothing could spoil PSG's night.

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