Zlatan Ibrahimovic was again the scourge of Nice as his sublime hat-trick helped Paris Saint-Germain warm up for their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City with a dominant 4-1 win.
Sweden international Ibrahimovic had scored eight times in his last six Ligue 1 fixtures against Nice before Saturday’s contest at Parc des Princes and his superb first-half double extended that record.
Ibrahimovic, who scored a brace in PSG’s 3-0 win in the reverse fixture, opened the scoring by rifling home after showing brilliant control from David Luiz’s long ball.
A fine solo effort from Hatem ben Arfa levelled for third-placed Nice, but Ibrahimovic’s stunning free-kick put PSG back in front before half-time.
David Luiz added PSG’s third after the break, before Ibrahimovic – heavily linked with a move to the Premier League next season – completed his hat-trick and took his tally of league goals against Nice to 11, more than he has scored against any other side.
Laurent Blanc’s men, who wrapped up the title with a 9-0 battering of Troyes last month, can now welcome City to Paris on Wednesday high on confidence as they look to earn a lead in the first leg.
Ibrahimovic tested the water early on with a fierce 20-yard effort that went just wide of the right-hand post, but the Sweden international opened the scoring in the 15th minute.
David Luiz’s punt over the top was controlled brilliantly by Ibrahimovic, who smashed in from close range via the crossbar.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Ben Arfa levelled in some style. The former Newcastle United forward picked up the ball on the halfway line and drove at the PSG defence before curling an unstoppable 25-yard effort to the right of Kevin Trapp.
It was another moment of quality from Ibrahimovic that restored PSG’s lead. Lucas Moura was bundled over on the edge of the box by Niklas Hult and the striker lashed a fierce free-kick into the top left-hand corner.
PSG should have been 3-1 up before the break as a fluent counter attack led to Adrien Rabiot teeing up Blaise Matuidi, who curled wide when one-on-one with Yoan Cardinale.
The hosts did extend their lead in the 48th minute when Hervin Ongenda’s corner from the right was flicked home at the near post by David Luiz.
Another PSG corner caused panic shortly after, this time Ibrahimovic denied a hat-trick when his header was nodded off the goalline by Vincent Koziello.
The visitors missed a great chance to get back into the game when Ben Arfa did brilliantly to squirm a pass into the path of Alassane Plea, who dinked wide with only Trapp to beat.
PSG wrapped up the win with eight minutes remaining, Ibrahimovic collecting Rabiot’s throughball and coolly slotting past Cardinale for his 30th league goal of the campaign.
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