Zlatan Ibrahimovic broke the record for goals in a single Ligue 1 season as he bade farewell to Parc des Princes in Paris-Saint Germain’s 4-0 win over Nantes on Saturday.
PSG’s number 10, the club’s leading all-time goalscorer, confirmed this week that he will leave when his contract expires at the end of the season, and his final home match for the champions proved to be another memorable affair.
Ibrahimovic, given a standing ovation as the stadium clock reached the 10th minute, opened the scoring with a rather unorthodox finish from close range and was thwarted a number of times by goalkeeper Maxime Dupe as he chased the goal which would take him to 38 for a single season – one beyond the Ligue 1 record set by Carlos Bianchi in 1977-78.
It was Lucas Moura who doubled the lead after Ibrahimovic combined with Angel Di Maria, before Marquinhos prodded in a third after PSG’s star man had a free-kick saved, but the champions continued to push forward in a bid to give their talisman the best send-off possible.
Just as the record looked to be out of reach, Ibrahimovic struck again, heading in Javier Pastore’s cross before being withdrawn amidst a rapturous reception, allowing the champions to begin their title party in earnest.
Parc des Princes was in party mood before kick-off but it was Nantes who started brightest, with Nicolas Douchez – making his first Ligue 1 appearance of the season – saving superbly to deny Leo Dubois’ curling low effort.
Ibrahimovic drilled straight at Dupe with his first effort of the game, before the crowd – including owner president Nasser Al-Khelaifi – rose as one to give the Swede a standing ovation as the clock showed 10 minutes.
Standing ovation pour Zlatan à la 10e minute !! https://t.co/JBGG3HEG7A
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) May 14, 2016
Douchez was again called into action moments later to claw Emiliano Sala’s header away from the top-right corner, but Ibrahimovic soon had the goal he wanted – albeit in unconventional fashion.
After releasing Di Maria down the right, Ibrahimovic raced into the area and met the Argentina international’s curling cross with his chest, diverting the ball into the turf, over Dupe and into the net.
Ibrahimovic was twice denied a second by Dupe but he helped PSG to a two-goal half-time lead nonetheless. His drive towards the area allowed Di Maria to turn the ball into Lucas’ path, and the winger made no mistake, sweeping into the bottom corner.
Dupe swatted aside another Ibrahimovic effort just after the break but PSG soon had their third. Ibrahimovic’s fierce free-kick from 20 yards was parried upwards by Dupe, and Marquinhos reacted quickest to prod home unchallenged.
With the result all-but secured, PSG appeared set on ensuring one last record for Ibrahimovic, though he dragged a promising opening wide after Lucas had fed his run through the middle.
Di Maria had tormented Nantes for the majority of the match and another pinpoint delivery saw Dupe forced into action again to tip substitute Blaise Matuidi’s lofted effort over, before Edinson Cavani was denied from close range.
Ibrahimovic saw another free-kick parried and a low strike clawed away from the bottom-left corner, but his moment finally arrived when, in the 89th minute, he powered in an unstoppable header from Pastore’s cross before walking off the pitch with his children to one last deafening ovation prior to the final whistle.
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