Ezequiel Lavezzi scored twice to guarantee Paris Saint-Germain a place in the Champions League knockout stages as the French club won 2-0 at Dynamo Kiev.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's majestic through ball set Lavezzi free to coolly finish on the stroke of half-time before a horrendous back-pass attempt allowed Blaise Matuidi to pounce and tee up the Argentine for a second seven minutes into the second period.
Kiev needed all three points to stand a chance of snatching qualification away from their guests on the night but Porto's 3-0 win at home to Dinamo Zagreb means they are now guaranteed to finish third and move into the Europa League in February.
PSG and Porto will now face off for top spot and a presumed more favourable tie in the round of 16 when the Portuguese club visit the Parc des Princes on December 4.
Despite needing victory, the home side engaged their guests in a scrappy and foul-laden beginning to the contest.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men were seemingly happy to oblige, knowing their qualification mission was far simpler, and midfield trio Matuidi, Marco Verratti and Mohamed Sissoko all picked up bookings inside eight particularly rough minutes.
But although Oleg Gusev kept goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu’s palms warm with a rasping drive on 22 minutes and both Dudu and Miguel Veloso missed the target by mere centimetres soon after, it would be the away side who got their noses in front.
And they did so in some style, as Ibrahimovic drifted out to the right wing to help substantiate a PSG counter, eventually laying on a crisp through pass to put Lavezzi one-on-one with Maksym Koval.
And the Argentine forward capped the move with an effortless lifted finish over the committed stopper to break the deadlock right before the interval.
A sucker-punch to Oleh Blokhin’s side it may have been, but the hosts remained very much in with a chance with 45 minutes left to play.
That was until the 52-minute mark, when disaster at the back effectively provided the final nail in their Champions League coffin.
Under pressure on the left-hand byline, Yevhen Khacheridi opted to pass back to his goalkeeper only to underhit the ball to Koval, allowing Matsuidi to pounce and poke the ball to Lavezzi for the tap-in.
The Ukrainian club were out of the game for the most part from there, though PSG had Sirigu to thank for ensuring there was not a tense finale after all.
Blocks from Lukman Haruna and Denys Garmash were good, but his one-handed save to prevent Dudu’s outrageous looping angled effort from finding the top corner on 58 minutes denied Kiev an instant reply.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ezequiel Lavezzi - Paris Saint-Germain: Two crucial finishes put the Ligue 1 side through as the Argentine at least tried to bring class to a drab encounter.
Dynamo Kiev: Koval 5, Danilo Silva 6, Betao 6, Taiwo 6, Khacheridi 4, Veloso 7, Garmash 6, Gusev 7, Haruna 7, Dudu 7, Ideye 5. Subs: Yarmolenko 5, Bogdanov 5, Milevskiy 6.
PSG: Sirigu 8, Thiago Silva 7, Alex 8, Maxwell 6, Van der Wiel 5, Sissoko 7, Nene 7, Matuidi 7, Verratti 6, Lavezzi 8, Ibrahimovic 7. Subs: Armand 6, Chantome 6, Pastore n/a.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ezequiel Lavezzi
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic