Paris Saint-Germain maintained their unbeaten start to the season on Wednesday when they cruised past Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in UEFA Champions League Group A.
Laurent Blanc has overseen an almost perfect start to the French champions’ campaign and first-half goals from Ivory Coast fullback Serge Aurier and Brazilian defender David Luiz put last season’s quarter-finalists in control.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped make the result certain on a counterattack in the 90th minute after a pass from substitute Javier Pastore released the Sweden captain to run through on goal, the decisive final touch coming off Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna.
PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi turned in another strong performance and said the match was won during a great opening 45 minutes.
“We turned in a really strong first half and took control, but Shakhtar are a good team, especially at home,” the France international said.
“We worked extremely hard and had chances to kill off the game in the second half, but it was a good overall performance against difficult opponents. We showed tonight that Paris Saint-Germain are a big team, but we won the match with a big performance in the first half against a good Shakhtar team,” he said. “We’re starting to string results together and now that’s two wins from two in the Champions League, which is just what we needed.”
The opener came after just seven minutes at the Arena Lviv, where Shakhtar are hosting games because of the ongoing conflict around Donetsk in the east of the country.
Aurier ghosted into the penalty area and rose above the static Shakhtar defense to plant a firm header into the bottom corner with goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov well beaten.
Former Chelsea centerback Luiz then popped up on 23 minutes to put the visitors two goals to the good when he prodded home a corner with his right thigh.
Shakhtar upped their work rate and tempo in the second half and carved out several chances, notably from 22-year-old Maksym Malyshev, who missed the target from close range, and Brazilian Alex Teixeira, who was denied by PSG’s German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
However, with time running out, Ibrahimovic broke the offside trap on a swift counterattack and saw his touch helped into the net by Croatian defender Srna for the visitors’ third goal.
“I was a bit apprehensive before the game [about his first Champions League appearance], but I’m very happy with my first goal and it was a good collective performance,” said Aurier, who was part of the Ivory Coast team that won this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
The Ligue 1 leaders, who host archrivals Olympique de Marseille on Sunday, now have two wins from two in Group A and are level at the top of the group with Real Madrid, who they meet next at the Parc des Princes.
While the two sides are well placed to progress to the round-of-16, that match will be crucial in helping decide who finishes first and therefore avoids another group winner in the knockout stages.
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