Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Champions League: PSG triumph on return to big time

AFP, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain’s Javier Pastore, second right, vies for the ball with Dynamo Kiev’s Denys Garmash, second left, in their UEFA Champions League match in Paris on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Paris Saint-Germain’s return to the Champions League after an absence of eight years went better than their Qatari owners could have imagined on Tuesday, with goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Alex and Javier Pastore helping see off Dynamo Kiev 4-1.

Ibrahimovic gave the French capital outfit the lead from the penalty spot in the 19th minute of the Group A encounter and Thiago Silva then marked his long-anticipated debut with a goal just before the half-hour mark.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side put the game to bed before the interval thanks to a thumping effort from their other Brazilian centerback Alex, although Miguel Veloso pulled one back for Dynamo late on, but there was still time for Pastore to add a fourth and underline PSG’s status as favorites to win a group that is, on paper, one of the easiest in the competition.

“It was good, not just because of the result, but for us to have a performance like tonight is good for our confidence and for the atmosphere in the squad,” said Ancelotti, whose side travel to Porto for their next group game in two weeks. “It was important to win this game, but we can say nothing more than that because we have to play Porto next and that will not be easy.”

Meanwhile, his Dynamo counterpart Yuri Semin was scathing in his criticism of his side’s defending in the first half.

“They are a very, very good team, one of the best we could have faced, but we didn’t show all we can do and were not good enough at dead balls,” Semin said. “At this level, you can’t play like that.”

PSG had not appeared in Europe’s top club competition since making a feeble group-stage exit in 2004 and in the intervening period they had even flirted with relegation until being bought out by the Qatar Sports Investment group last year.

The new owners want their team to win the Champions League in the not too distant future, hence their massive investment on star names such as Ibrahimovic and Silva.

Silva finally made his debut in the heart of the back four after struggling with injury since his summer move from AC Milan and he could surely not have asked for a more serene start to life at his new club.

Dynamo, who have made a habit of coming off second best to Shakhtar Donetsk in their domestic league in recent times, arrived with very little ambition, happy to sit back and pack the midfield.

Save for an early Pastore strike that Maxym Koval turned around the post, that strategy restricted the hosts initially, but PSG were handed a glorious opportunity to get their noses in front when Jeremy Menez was brought down by Dynamo captain Taras Mikhalik inside the area.

There could be few complaints about referee Bjoern Kuipers’ decision to award the penalty and Ibrahimovic stepped up to score his 29th Champions League goal.

Forced to change their game after the opening goal, Dynamo became vulnerable to counterattacks from the home side, and both Ibrahimovic and Pastore were denied by Koval from one such move.

From the corner that followed, Dynamo failed to clear their lines, allowing Silva to slot home at the back post, while fellow Brazilian Alex added another with a thumping volley following another corner three minutes later.

The second half was almost akin to a training exercise, although Pastore came within a whisker of adding another 15 minutes from the end, before a Veloso cross from the right found its way into the net.

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