Paris Saint-Germain back on track after Coupe de France win


Paris Saint-Germain are into the last 16 of the Coupe de France after a 2-1 win over Ligue 1 rivals Girondins de Bordeaux at Parc des Princes on Wednesday. The capital outfit were knocked out in the round of 32 by Montpellier HSC – in Paris – last season, but avoided a similar fate this time around thanks to goals from Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore. Coach Laurent Blanc heavily rotated his players on a cold Parisian evening with Sunday's huge Ligue 1 clash away at AS Saint-Etienne firmly on his mind. However, the plethora of changes did not have an adverse impact on the collective performance. In fact, it arguably improved it for the first 45 minutes with PSG playing some of their best football of 2015. Even though the second 45 did not match the first, that excellent start to the game will be encouraging for Blanc. Le President's men responded well to the challenge posed by Bordeaux and most seized their chances to impress. Lucas Digne — provider of a sumptuous cross for Cavani to head home the opener — was vastly improved from his recent performances, while Yohan Cabaye also put in a strong display and continued his good start to 2015. Cavani was one of the biggest pluses on the night though. The Uruguayan scored his second goal in as many games with that header after 13 minutes and continued his good recent run of form. El Matador found the back of the net in the 4-2 win over Evian Thonon Gaillard on Sunday when given a 22-minute run-out at the end of the game and immediately picked up where he left off once the Bordeaux clash kicked off. Blanc's decision to sanction Cavani is clearly proving to be the right one at present because it has coaxed renewed commitment and purpose out of the South American. He worked hard once again in the victory over Les Girondins — as he always does — but proved clearly to his coach once again that he best serves the team in the middle of the front three. Another big positive was Pastore getting himself on the scoresheet. El Flaco scored a sublime volleyed effort against Evian and added to that with an opportunist finish against Bordeaux after visiting goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso had parried the returning Ezequiel Lavezzi's low effort. For the first time since April of 2012 — when he found the net in three consecutive Ligue 1 games — Pastore has scored in back-to-back matches. After rediscovering his form and confidence over the first part of the season, the Argentinian playmaker is now complimenting some excellent displays with goals in this second. It was not all perfect for PSG though. Just a minute into the second half, the defensive lapses that have become a costly bad habit this season came back to haunt Blanc's men. Diego Rolan was able to profit from some sloppy defending to score with a neat finish to immediately halve the deficit and Les Parisiens then had to weather a minor flurry of Bordeaux pressure before settling into their rhythm once again. It did not prove fatal on the night, but against a more dangerous side, that sort of concentration loss could decide the outcome of a big domestic or European match. Blanc's decision to start Zoumana Camara alongside captain Thiago Silva in central defence, moving the in-form Marquinhos to right-back, ultimately proved to be the wrong one. The veteran defender looked every bit a player who has not featured in any competitive action since October. The rusty 35-year-old picked up two bookings, the second of which was avoidable, meaning that PSG had to finish the game with 10 men. Although it will have done Marquinhos good just to get another 90 minutes under his belt, the breather handed to David Luiz could have been better utilised by giving the younger Brazilian a chance in his preferred role. Despite the relatively narrow margin of victory, PSG have deservedly reached the last 16. It did not matter how they won, but Blanc's men did it with some style and played some good football in the first half. The French champions have now tasted success in three consecutive fixtures, something they had not done since the end of November and they approach Sunday's crunch clash with Saint-Etienne — where the current run of form started — in improving form.