LIGUE 1: Ibrahimovic strikes again as PSG go six points clear

Reuters, PARIS

Sun, Feb 10, 2013 - Page 8

Zlatan Ibrahimovic started on the bench, but still netted his 21st goal in as many Ligue 1 appearances as Paris Saint-Germain opened a six-point lead at the top of the table with a 3-1 home win over SC Bastia on Friday.

The Sweden international striker, who replaced Kevin Gameiro in the 65th minute, converted a penalty to add to Jeremy Menez’s second-half opener and Ezequiel Lavezzi wrapped up the victory with one minute left to put PSG on 51 points from 24 games.

Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu failed to chalk up his ninth consecutive clean sheet in the league after Wahbi Khazri scored 13th-placed Bastia’s consolation goal from a long-range free-kick.

With Ibrahimovic and Lavezzi starting on the bench, PSG were quiet up front early on. Brazilian Lucas failed to threaten in attack and the hosts were booed off by an angry crowd at halftime.

Gameiro, who hit the woodwork midway through the first half, came close again after the break when goalkeeper Mickael Landreau had to stretch to his left to tip away the France international striker’s back-heel.

Menez found the back of the net 11 minutes into the second half with a low shot that slipped under Landreau’s right arm.

Ibrahimovic quickly found his stride when he came on, triggering chants from the fans with a series of spectacular dribbles in the box.

In the 71st minute, he beat Landreau from the penalty spot after Lucas was fouled by Julian Palmieri.

Bastia were lucky to escape when referee Olivier Thual did not show Samba Yatabare a second yellow card for a foul on Menez.

Substitute Khazri then pulled one back for the visitors when he lobbed Sirigu in the 83rd minute, taking advantage with the Italian goalkeeper out of position as he tried to organize his defense.

Khazri looked set to double his tally when he dribbled the ball past Sirigu, only for his low shot to be blocked by defender Gregory van der Wiel.

Lavezzi, who had replaced Lucas, put the game beyond Bastia’s reach by poking the ball in after a Menez cross was deflected into his path.