Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty powers PSG past St. Etienne
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the only goal as Paris St Germain put pressure on the top two in Ligue 1 with a 1-0 victory at St Etienne.
The Sweden striker’s penalty on the hour earned Laurent Blanc’s men back-to-back wins in the league as they closed the gap on leaders Lyon to four points.
St Etienne are now four points behind their opponents in fourth, having seen their 12-match unbeaten run brought to an end.
It was the hosts who had the first glimpse of goal through Yohan Mollo, although his shot sailed over the bar with options either side of him.
PSG then began to dominate possession but were frustrated by a miserly St Etienne defence that has conceded just one goal in eight games.
In a rare first-half opportunity for the visitors, Lucas Moura broke free on the wing and Blaise Matuidi was just centimetres away from getting a touch on the Brazil international’s teasing cross.
Half-time came and went without either goalkeeper having been tested but PSG’s Salvatore Sirigu was called into action early in the second half, rising to claim Mevlut Erding’s looping header from Mollo’s corner.
Surprisingly, given their riches in attack, PSG fans were made to wait until the 53rd minute for their first shot on target – a speculative 20-yard effort from Edinson Cavani that Stephane Ruffier gathered comfortably.
Blanc’s men then had the best chance of the match so far when Marco Veratti’s ball released Ibrahimovic on goal. An alert Ruffier came off his line to deny the Swede an opening goal, but the match came to life when Clement Chantome was adjudged to have handled inside the area.
The penalty was awarded and Ibrahimovic converted from 12 yards, despite Ruffier’s efforts, to hand PSG the lead.
Minutes later, a miscue from David Luiz in the PSG defence gifted Mollo a shooting chance but the former Nancy player had his effort blocked as St Etienne looked for an immediate response.
PSG, though, could easily have been two up with 20 minutes left to play. However, Ibrahimovic hesitated from Veratti’s pass and Paul Baysse was allowed to get back to block the Sweden international’s effort.
St Etienne continued to ride their luck and when Cavani latched on to Javier Pastore’s pass a second goal seemed inevitable, but the Uruguayan’s clever lob came back off the bar with Ruffier well beaten.