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Football: Ibrahimovic brace inspires PSG to victory

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic extended his league leading goal tally to 24 as his brace inspired Paris Saint-Germain to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Nancy at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.

The victory gives the capital side a five-point cushion over second-placed Lyon, who host Marseille in the final match of the weekend on Sunday.

Former England captain David Beckham came on in the second half as Carlo Ancelotti shored up the midfield on what was an unexpectedly hard afternoon's work on a sun kissed day in Paris.

"We had a good reaction in the second half and were able to get back into the match," explained PSG 'keeper Salvatore Sirigu.

"We're enjoying this moment and even if we didn't play well in the first half it's good to pick up a victory after struggling so much." he added.

Ancelotti himself said his team was jaded.

"I knew beforehand it would be very difficult," said the Italian, who urged his men to snap out of it in the second period.

"Two-and-a-half days after a Champions League match you can't have the same intensity," he reflected.

"Today the team was tired and the next week will be important for our recuperation," added Ancelotti, who lauded Ibrahimovic.

"He is a great goalscorer, fantastic - he never loses confidence. He is a great player."

After Nancy took a shock lead on 36 minutes, Ibrahimovic struck twice in three minutes early in the second half to ensure a successful week's work for PSG following their qualification for the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.

On 59 minutes, the normally reliable centre-back and captain Sebastien Puygrenier failed to control a routine ball at the top of the area which allowed Jeremy Menez to pounce and touch the ball forward for Ibrahimoivc to tuck away the equaliser.

The goal changed the match, bringing the crowd back into the tie, and three minutes later PSG were in front following another disaster in defence, this time by Damien Gregorini.

A ball over the top of the back-four landed outside the box but although Gregorini arrived first to meet it, he completely miskicked allowing Ibrahimovic to run past him and stroke the ball into the empty net.

Nancy coach Patrick Gabriel was frustrated.

"We almost pulled it off and there are no regrets but it's disappointing to play the match we did and lose because of two big mistakes.

"That's the strength of Paris, they know how to control their matches and then hurt you."

Nancy took the lead on 36 minutes with a classic piece of counter-attacking football that was brilliantly finished off by Cameroon international Benjamin Moukandjo.

PSG's Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore carelessly gave the ball away just inside his own-half, allowing Djamel Bakar to sweep the ball forward to Moukandjo.

Although his initial shot was blocked by Sirigu, the 24-year-old kept his composure to skillfully head the ball into the net despite the presence of defender and home captain Thiago Silva on the goalline.

Ancelotti fired up his playes for the second half and they should have equalised three minutes after the restart when Ibrahimovic broke through the away defence but with only Gregorini to beat, his shot was superbly swatted away by the 34-year-old veteran.

But it was only a matter of minutes before the home side deservedly equalised and went on to win with Beckham making a late cameo after being an unused substitute against Valencia.

gnf/cw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130309/football-ibrahimovic-brace-inspires-psg-victory-1