Ibra scores as PSG stutters to 9th straight win
PARIS (AP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty was enough to give Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 win over Nice on Saturday for its ninth straight win in all competitions, although coach Laurent Blanc lamented that his team’s performance was “very average.”
Ibrahimovic continued his return to form with his second goal in a week to help a scrappy PSG stay within one point of French league leader Marseille.
“We’re hanging in there, we’re picking up points. We’ve won nine in a row, after all, and a lot of clubs would like to be in our position,” Blanc said. “We’re certainly very average in terms of how we’re playing, but in terms of points we’re doing pretty well. We could hide behind the win, but we’d also like to play better and we’re working on it.”
Ibrahimovic, who missed nearly two months of the season with a heel injury, slotted a penalty into the bottom corner in the 15th minute after Brazilian winger Lucas Moura had been bundled over.
The Sweden star got PSG’s second of the game in a 3-1 win against Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.
“Without being brilliant, the first half was intense. We created chances, and we should have doubled our lead,” Blanc said. “We were very sloppy in the second half. We managed to hold on to our lead, which is really the only positive thing about the second half.”
Ibrahimovic, the league’s top scorer for the past two seasons, has scored six so far. He had not scored in the league since a hat trick against Saint-Etienne on Aug. 31.
Marseille beat Nantes 2-0 on Friday night and has 34 points after 15 games.
The 33-year-old Ibrahimovic has scored an array of spectacular goals during a distinguished career and he almost added another.
In the 10th minute, he took down a high ball with a superb piece of control and then clipped a first-time shot against the post.
PSG is unbeaten in 21 games this season and has not lost since a 2-1 home defeat to Rennes on May 7.
However, after a bright start, this became another scrappy performance from a PSG side which regularly struggles to break teams down, despite boasting a glut of attacking talent.
PSG faded in the second half and struggled to create a chance until Edinson Cavani headed over Serge Aurier’s cross in the 74th.
With Nice gaining in confidence, a draw seemed increasingly likely, and left back Jordan Amavi hit the post with a header from a free kick with 10 minutes to go.
“We finished the first half better and we started the second half better. It’s encouraging to have played well for 50 minutes, it’s a pity we weren’t rewarded,” Nice coach Claude Puel said. “We’re a bit frustrated, disappointed, because we wanted to get a point. Given the way the game went it would have been logical.”
Elsewhere, Rennes climbed up to fourth spot after beating Monaco 2-0.
Monaco center half Aymen Abdennour scored an own goal and Sweden forward Ola Toivonen got his fourth of the campaign.
Reims beat Corsican side Bastia 2-1 to improve to eighth place, thanks to goals from forwards David Ngog and Benjamin Moukandjo.
Strikers Benjamin Jeannot and Jordan Ayew scored a goal each and defender Raphael Guerreiro got the other as Lorient won 3-2 at Toulouse, which has lost five of its past six league games.
Lens won 2-0 against Metz to move out of the relegation zone, whilst Caen drew 1-1 with Montpellier.
On Sunday, it is: Bordeaux vs. Lille; Evian vs. Guingamp and Saint-Etienne vs. Lyon.