If Saturday night’s performance against D.C. United is any indication, Paris Saint-Germain’s $20 million offseason investment in Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be well worth it.
But it won’t guarantee a victory in every match.
In his first appearance with the French side, Ibrahimovic scored a goal in the third minute to give PSG an early lead over United, but a penalty later in the first half converted by Dwayne De Rosario gave the home side a share of the points as the Herbalife World Football Challenge match finished 1-1.
The match was delayed 45 minutes for a passing thunderstorm, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the media and fans clamoring to see what Ibra could do for the nouveau riche Parisien club. A media frenzy tracked Ibrahimovic throughout warm-ups, and he ended the suspense early.
After running onto a beautiful through ball from Jeremy Menez, Ibrahimovic settled himself in the box, made two quick moves to his left and fired a blistering left-footer past D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid to give PSG a 1-0 lead.
Ibrahimovic, who led the Italian Serie A with 28 goals last season while with AC Milan, played 37 minutes and took three shots before subbing off for Guillaume Hoarau.
Before Ibra subbed off, though, United’s nearly pulled back an equalizer in the 20th minute. In a near-duplication of D.C.’s goal-connection from Wednesday’s MLS All-Star game, Chris Pontius one-timed a lob from Dwayne De Rosario off the crossbar.
Three minutes later, though, United’s momentum was stemmed when the referee called a delay in the 23rd minute as lightening and thunder rolled overhead.
Once play resumed 45 minutes later, United showed they were still in the ascendency. Defender Daniel Woolard launched an innocent left-footer on net that caught the hand of PSG’s Milan Bisevac in the box. De Rosario made good on his resulting spotkick, beating PSG goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez to his left to tie the game at 1-1.
PSG generated three quality opportunities in the opening 10 minutes of the second half but their best chance to take the lead came in the waning minutes of stoppage time.
In the 92nd minute, PSG midfielder Christophe Jallet was in great position after a cheeky play in the box. Jallet lined a right-footer that United goalkeeper Joe Willis dove and knocked away. A minute later, defender Mamadou Sakho had a golden opportunity to pot the winner when he headed a deflection Willis managed to turn aside.
It was a fittingly frenzied finish to a back-and-forth game that saw PSG outshoot D.C., 6-4, even though the homeside outpossessed the French side, 52% to 48%.
The match complete’s PSG’s participation in the WFC, following their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Yankee Stadium last weekend.
D.C., meanwhile, return to league action next Saturday against Columbus.
Lineups and boxscore (MLSsoccer.com)
Opta Chalkboard (MLSsoccer.com)