Zlatan Ibrahimovic has urged Paris Saint-Germain to finish off Bayer 04 Leverkusen after the Ligue 1 leaders’ 4-0 crushing of their German rivals on Tuesday left them on the verge of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.
Leverkusen, second only to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, suffered their third straight home loss in Tuesday’s last-16, first-leg clash, with Laurent Blanc’s PSG rarely troubled at the BayArena and Ibrahimovic masterminding the win with two goals in three first-half minutes.
“We had a good start and when you are one goal up, it’s easier, it gives you space,” the Swedish striker said. “We had a good first half and continued to play our game after the break, when they played with one less, so it was a good day.”
With Tuesday’s brace, the 32-year-old Ibrahimovic has unseated Cristiano Ronaldo as the competition’s top-scorer with 10 goals in six Champions League games this season, after the PSG forward netted four in the 5-0 rout of RSC Anderlecht in Belgium in October last year.
Left-winger Blaise Matuidi put PSG ahead with barely two minutes gone and with just more than 60 percent possession, it seemed only a matter of time before PSG added a second.
Ibrahimovic’s first came when referee Viktor Kassai spotted Emir Spahic pulling him down in the area, booked the defender and awarded the spot-kick, despite furious protests from the Leverkusen defense.
Ibrahimovic slotted the penalty on 39 minutes and then gave PSG a commanding lead with a fantastic shot from outside the area.
Matuidi found Ibrahimovic on the edge of the box and the Swedish star rifled a spectacular first time shot into the top right corner.
Leverkusen boss Sami Hyypia reacted at halftime by taking off left winger Son Heung-min for 17-year-old Julian Brandt and swapping captain Rolfes for Stefan Reinartz.
However, the hosts’ fortunes did not improve as Spahic, who had already been shown a yellow for the foul that led to Ibrahimovic’s penalty, was booked again for holding back right-wing Lucas and sent off on 59 minutes.
Yohan Cabaye then added the fourth on 88 minutes.
“I have an embarrassment of riches in my team at the moment,” a contented Blanc said afterward.
Hyypia’s side now face the unenviable task of trying to salvage something from the return leg in Paris on March 12.
“In the first half, we played without motivation, with fear. I don’t know why we played like that, but in any case, we played very badly. Paris walked over us. It was too easy for them,” Leverkusen defender Omer Toprak said.
Having been routed 5-0 by Manchester United at the end of November last year in their previous home Champions League match, Leverkusen were again outgunned and outclassed on the European stage.
Although PSG turned in a five-star performance, Ibrahimovic was forthright when asked if they were the best team he has played in.
“I’ve played in fantastic teams so difficult to say, you can have a great team, but not win trophies, we need to finish the job first,” he said.
Blanc dampened down growing expectations, saying: “It doesn’t matter how the first leg went, we still have the second to come. Obviously this is a big step towards the quarter-finals, but we want to win the return at the Parc des Princes.”