Paris Saint-Germain walks all over LeverkusenZlatan Ibrahimovic scored with a stunning long-range strike as Paris Saint-Germain sauntered to a 4-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday, clearly demonstrating that they are among the Champions League favorites.
The volatile Swedish striker, who had converted a penalty three minutes earlier, struck a rising shot into the top corner from 25 meters (82 feet) to cap a performance that included his usual mix of nonchalance, arrogance and breath-taking skill.
Ibrahimovic, who argued constantly with his opponents and appeared to taunt them near the end, was also involved in PSG’s other two goals, scored by Blaise Matuidi and substitute Yohan Cabaye as he took his tally in this season’s competition to 10.
PSG totally dominated the last-16 first-leg match, playing long periods of delightful possession football with midfield trio Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti and Matuidi also outstanding.
Leverkusen, second in the Bundesliga but with a poor recent European record, were never in the hunt after Matuidi scored in the third minute.
The Germans, beaten 5-0 at home by Manchester United in their final group match, had to wait 36 minutes for their first shot on target and did not produce a genuine opening until 13 minutes from the end.
“We lost heart, we were too nervous,” shell-shocked defender Omer Toprak told Sky Sport Deutschland. “They walked all over us. It was a shame for the fans.”
The Bundesliga side’s misery was extended when defender Emir Spahic was sent off in the 59th minute for a foul on Lucas Moura and they may have been relieved to finish losing by just four goals.
“Tonight, we re-found our collective power, as if it was at the beginning of the season,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc told French TV station Canal Plus.
“You may point out Bayer’s weakness, but I would rather note the PSG performance tonight. We played as a great team, both individually and collectively.
“The squad is in a very, very good state of mind, and I also want to congratulate those who came off the bench. I really have many options to make my starting lineup, everyone is motivated and focused.”
Leverkusen made a disastrous start when captain Simon Rolfes, substituted at halftime, lost possession to Matuidi in his own half and the ball was in the back of their net within seconds.
The ball was instantly fed to Ibrahimovic, who found Verratti and the Italian laid the ball back to Matuidi, who side-footed past Bernd Leno.
PSG took control, although Ibrahimovic was slow to get into the action and brought ironic jeers from the crowd when he carelessly backheeled the ball into touch.
But it was not long before he made his mark.
The visitors extended their lead in the 39th minute when Spahic was penalized for an off-the-ball tackle on Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic fired the penalty into the bottom left-hand corner.
Ibrahimovic produced his masterpiece three minutes later, striking a rising, first-time shot into the far top corner after Matuidi rolled the ball back to him.
“We played a good game,” Ibrahimovic said. “We had a good start with Blaise’s goal and when you’re one goal up it’s easier. It was a good first half and in the second half we continued to play our game.