Ibrahi­movic hat trick fires PSG into French Cup fi­nal

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY DAMIAN MCCALL

A Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic hat-trick fired Paris Saint-Ger­main to a 4-1 French Cup semi­fi­nal victory over Saint-Eti­enne at the Parc des Princes on Wed­nes­day as their epic quest for a four-tro­phy sweep con­tin­ued apace.

Ibrahi­movic’s opener from the penalty spot on the 21st minute was his 100th goal for the club, he then rounded the ‘keeper on 81 for the sec­ond, and com­pleted his hat-trick with a fine run and shot in in­jury-time.

But an in­jury- de­pleted Paris had to fight for long pe­ri­ods of this gutsy Cup tie as Saint-Eti­enne drew level with a Ro­main Hamouma header, go­ing in 1-1 at half­time be­fore an Eze­quiel Lavezzi header put PSG back ahead on 60.

Saint-Eti­enne coach Christophe Galtier praised Swede Ibrahi­movic as “the great­est for­eigner to have played in France” as he lamented his side’s in­abil­ity to match PSG’s pound­ing ar­tillery.

PSG have scored 11 times against Saint- Eti­enne in four matches this sea­son of which eight have come off Ibrahi­movic’s boot.

‘War ma­chine’

“There’s noth­ing to say, at this level they are un­beat­able, in any case for us,” said Galtier.

“The had the per­fect match, in in­ten­sity, tech­ni­cal plan, de­ter­mi­na­tion. It’s never good to take on this type of team so near the fi­nal.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed for my play­ers that they weren’t able to go all the way in this adventure. But that’s all, there was too big a dif­fer­ence.

“They are a war ma­chine. They were su­pe­rior on all lev­els.”

PSG now face sec­ond di­vi­sion Aux­erre, who beat hold­ers Guingamp 1-0 on Tues­day, in the Cup fi­nal at the Stade de France on May 30.

Paris also take on Bas­tia in the League Cup fi­nal at the same venue on Satur­day, face Barcelona in Paris in the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nals first-leg next Wed­nes­day and they lead Ligue 1 by a sin­gle point from Lyon.

No French club has clinched the do­mes­tic tre­ble.

With de­fender David Luiz, mid­fielder Thi­ago Motta, and for­wards Edin­son Ca­vani and Lu­cas all ruled out through in­jury, coach Lau­rent Blanc also rested Blaise Ma­tu­idi with a packed cal­en­dar of matches com­ing PSG’s way.

The gi­ant Swede con­verted his spot-kick with aplomb af­ter Lavezzi had been tugged from be­hind and the ref­eree awarded a gen­er­ous penalty.

But Saint-Eti­enne stormed back at the Parisians and were level four min­utes later when Hamou-

ever ma’s glanc­ing header from a free­kick curled be­yond ‘keeper Ni­co­las Douchez at the near post.

Mev­lut Erd­ing should then have given the vis­i­tors the lead af­ter 32 min­utes, but he hes­i­tated when through on Douchez, who de­flected his tardy shot to safety.

Lavezzi then ran onto a sump­tu­ous cross from Pa­s­tore just af­ter the hour and rose alone on the edge of the six-yard box, his loop­ing header leav­ing Stephane Ruffier rooted to the spot as the ball crept just in­side his far post.

102nd Goal

Ibrahi­movic then calmed home nerves run­ning onto a through ball to round the ‘keeper and slot home into an empty net to send the sta­dium wild. His third goal was equally ex­trav­a­gant as his trade­mark drib­ble found him a glim­mer of space to shoot home his 102nd goal for the club.

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