Thu, Sep 19, 2013 - Page 18 News List

UEFA Champions League: Motta brace sees PSG get winning start in Piraeus

AFP, ATHENS

An utterly commanding second-half performance helped Paris Saint-Germain begin their Champions League campaign with a 4-1 win against Olympiakos in Greece on Tuesday.

Edinson Cavani put the France champions ahead at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium with 19 minutes on the clock, but Olympiakos deservedly drew level six minutes later courtesy of a fine individual effort by Vladimir Weiss.

However, PSG upped their game after the restart and were rewarded for their efforts when Brazil-born Italy player Thiago Motta twice headed home from corners.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw a 82ndminute penalty saved, before Marquinhos marked his debut with a late headed effort to seal the win.

“Olympiakos caused us a lot of problems in the first half, but they will do the same to a lot of teams if they continue to play that way,” new PSG manager Laurent Blanc said. “They deserved to draw level, but there was no reason for us to be afraid.”

The Ligue 1 club are hoping to improve on last season’s run to the quarter-finals, where they were a little unlucky to lose on away-goals to Barcelona and Blanc was desperate to get off to a positive start in Group C.

Blanc, who led Girondins de Bordeaux to victory against Olympiakos in the last 16 in the 2009-2010 edition, gave Brazilian summer signing Marquinhos his long-awaited debut in central defense, while Maxwell and Cavani were restored to the starting line-up.

Against such an expensively assembled side, Olympiakos were relying on the notoriously hostile atmosphere of their ground in the Athenian port of Piraeus to tip the scales in their favor and Michel’s side came flying out of the blocks.

Slovakia winger Weiss crashed an effort off the bar inside the opening minute before David Fuster rattled the post from the edge of the area after PSG failed to deal with a corner.

However, it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play thanks to a goal from their record 64 million euro (US$85.5 million) summer recruit, Cavani.

The Uruguayan just stayed onside to connect with Maxwell’s square pass and slide the ball into an empty net after a superb Ibrahimovic pass cut open the home defense.

However, the lead did not last long, with Weiss restoring parity in remarkable fashion, nutmegging Marquinhos and sidestepping Thiago Silva before finishing past Salvatore Sirigu in goal with the help of a deflection off Gregory Van der Wiel.

Olympiakos spent much of the opening period in the PSG half, but it was the visitors who enjoyed most of the possession and the introduction of Ezequiel Lavezzi at the interval in place of Lucas helped swing the game their way.

Roberto turned a powerful Cavani shot around the post as PSG pressed and retook the lead in the 68th minute when Lavezzi’s corner from the left was headed in by Motta.

Five minutes later, Motta scored again with a near-identical goal, getting away from Andreas Samaris to head in Lavezzi’s corner.

Ibrahimovic missed from 11m after being upended inside the box by the hapless Samaris, but Marquinhos capped his first appearance for PSG with a goal as he headed home in the 86th minute.

Fresh from this result, PSG will next face SL Benfica at the Parc des Princes early next month in a game which is likely to be pivotal, especially after the Portuguese club won their opening Group C game 2-0 against RSC Anderlecht.

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