Ibrahimovic hat trick fires PSG into French Cup final
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.
“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.
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.