Paris Saint-Germain maintained their unbeaten start to the season on Wednesday as they cruised past Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in Champions League Group A.
Laurent Blanc has overseen an almost perfect start to the French champions’ campaign, and first-half goals from Ivory Coast full-back Serge Aurier and Brazilian defender David Luiz put last season’s quarter-finalists in control.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped make the result certain on a counter-attack in the 90th minute after a pass from substitute Javier Pastore released the Sweden captain to run through on goal, the decisive final touch coming off Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna.
PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi turned in another strong performance and said the match was won during a great opening 45 minutes for Blanc’s men.
“We turned in a really strong first half and took control but Shakhtar are a good team especially at home,” said the French international.
“We worked extremely hard and had chances to kill off the game in the second half but it was a good overall performance against a difficult opponent.
“We showed tonight (Wednesday) that Paris Saint-Germain are a big team but we won the match with a big peformance in the first half against a good Shakhtar team.
“We’re starting to string results together and now that’s two wins from two in the Champions League which is just what we needed,” added Matuidi.
Aurier and Luiz scored in the opening 25 minutes
The opener came after just seven minutes at the Arena Lviv, where Shakhtar are hosting games because of the ongoing conflict around Donetsk in the east of the country.
Aurier ghosted into the box and rose above the static Shakhtar defence to plant a firm header into the bottom corner with ‘keeper Andriy Pyatov well beaten.
Former Chelsea centre-back Luiz then popped up on 23 minutes to put the visitors two goals to the good when he prodded home a corner with his right thigh.
Shakhtar upped their workrate and tempo in the second half and carved out several chances, notably from 22-year-old Maksym Malyshev, who missed the target from close range, and Brazilian Alex Teixeira, who was denied by PSG’s German ‘keeper Kevin Trapp.
But with time running out, Ibrahimovic broke the offside trap on a swift counter-attack and saw his touch helped into the net by Croatian defender Srna for the capital side’s third goal.
“I was a bit apprehensive before the game (about his first Champions League appearance) but I’m very happy with my first goal and it was a good collective performance,” said Aurier, who was part of the Ivory Coast team that won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Ligue 1 leaders, who host arch-rivals Marseille on Sunday, now have two wins from two in Group A and are level atop the section with Real Madrid, who they meet next at the Parc des Princes.
While the two sides are well placed to progress to the last 16, that match will be crucial in helping decide who finishes first and therefore avoids another group winner in the first knockout round.