Paris Saint-Germain were indebted to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s double as they claimed a 2-0 victory at Bastia in Ligue 1 on Saturday.
The talismanic forward popped up to tap home Edinson Cavani’s square ball midway through the second half before sweeping home Serge Aurier’s low cross to seal the points and ensure a positive result ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid.
It was far from a vintage performance for the defending champions, who found themselves labouring at the scene of last season’s shock 4-2 defeat and could have fallen behind when a mistake from goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu was nearly punished by Gael Danic.
Ibrahimovic tapped wide at the far post just before half time and then saw another close-range effort chalked off for offside early in the second half as PSG began to press.
And the Sweden international was on hand to seal a second-half brace and earn a crucial win for the visitors, whose fans were banned from travelling due to fears of violence.
With the upcoming clash against Real Madrid and a mounting injury list, PSG boss Laurent Blanc made six changes from the win over Marseille before the international break.
His patched-up side were slow out of the blocks at the Stade Armand Cesari, with Ibrahimovic’s ambitious 35-yard free-kick the only sight of goal during a physical opening 15 minutes.
Javier Pastore should have done better five minutes later, diverting a diving header wide after Thiago Silva’s teasing long ball into the box, as PSG continued to labour.
They were nearly punished just before the half-hour when a poor pass from Sirigu – making his first appearance of the season – was seized upon by Danic, only for the Italian to recover and smother inside the area.
Opposite number Jean-Louis Leca remained untroubled at the other end, with Ibrahimovic spurning the best chance of the half five minutes before the break, poking wide from three yards following Maxwell’s cross from the byline.
The Swede had the ball in the net two minutes into the second half, but his tap-in from Cavani’s scuffed low cross was ruled out for offside.
Ibrahimovic diverted another header wide, before Cavani stung the palms of Leca with a powerful half-volley on the edge of the area as the visitors began to assert themselves.
Adrien Rabiot powered a header straight at the keeper again four minutes later, while Sirigu got down well to deny Brandao’s low angled drive at the other end.
PSG continued to work and finally made the breakthrough 18 minutes from time when a well-timed run allowed Cavani to get in behind the defence, before teeing up Ibrahimovic inside the area to slot into an empty net.
The hosts begun to stutter after that opener and Ibrahimovic sealed the points for Blanc’s men by sweeping home Aurier’s low cross seven minutes from the end.