Jean-Kevin Augustin pressed home his claim for more first-team opportunities with Paris Saint-Germain by scoring the winner in Wednesday’s friendly with Inter.
The league leaders in Ligue 1 and Serie A went head-to-head in Qatar during their respective mid-season breaks and selected strong XIs for the game, but it was one of the contest’s hot prospects who struck tellingly, Augustin latching onto Marco Verratti’s improvised throughball to finish smartly.
With a 19-point advantage in Ligue 1, Laurent Blanc can perhaps afford to give the likes of Augustin a chance domestically as they look to make an impression on the Champions League, starting with a round-of-16 tie against Chelsea.
By contrast, Inter are clear of Fiorentina by just a single point, off the back of nine one-goal victories, and their water-tight defence was put to the test by PSG’s incessant attack.
Augustin went close in the opening minute, quickly establishing a link with Verratti, but the young forward blazed over the crossbar.
Former Inter attacker Zlatan Ibrahimovic quickly got in on the action, backheeling into the path of Blaise Matuidi to drive a low effort at Samir Handanovic before bringing the best out of Inter’s goalkeeper with a left-footed piledriver that appeared bound for the top corner.
Verratti hit the crossbar after jinking his way to the penalty spot on the half-hour mark but the Italian’s tenacity would pay off just before the interval.
His persistence to win the ball afforded Augustin a chance one-on-one with Handanovic and the 18-year-old clipped a neat shot beyond the keeper.
Inter had enjoyed few chances before the break, but Stevan Jovetic ought to have scored five minutes into the second half, PSG keeper Kevin Trapp was alert to deny the Montenegrin rushing in at his back post.
Adrien Rabiot curled a neat effort over the crossbar just before the hour, but the pause in play prompted the start of a string of substitutions that sapped the game of momentum.
But the first half will have provided Roberto Mancini’s men with a glimpse of the standard they harbour hopes of returning to, with a top-three finish in Serie A – and Champions League qualification – on the cards for the San Siro club.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!