BRUSSELS (AP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four goals, from the simple to the sublime, to lead Paris Saint-Germain to a 5-0 rout of Anderlecht on Wednesday, its third consecutive victory in Group C of the Champions League.
After tapping home a low cross in the 17th minute for his first, the Swedish star delivered an exhibition of power and guile which further underscored his standing as one of the best players in the world.
And two of the goals will be remembered for years to come. In the 22nd minute, he diverted home a low cross with a seemingly nonchalant inside backheel with his trailing leg, dumbfounding the Anderlecht defender tackling at his ankles.
Then he pounced on a loose ball some 28 meters out and blasted it into the top left corner with a ferocious, swerving shot on the bounce in the 36th minute. "Score a goal like this, it is good for the memory," Ibrahimovic said. And throughout, he showed a nimbleness and acceleration belying the size of this football giant of 1.94 meters and 94 kilos.
In the 62nd minute, he left defenders standing a with a sudden acceleration from his own half and controlled a difficult ball with his head — nodding it perfectly into his stride for a dipping volley that ricocheted in off the post.
An excellent goal, but one which barely made his top three on an awe-inspiring night in Brussels. Ibrahimovic's majestic performance was such that the whole Van den Stock stadium —full with some 25,000 Anderlecht fans — applauded his performance.
"I don't complain. Especially when the supporters after the goal were clapping their hands. It was a big honor for me," the Swede said. Ibrahimovic applauded back to each corner after his spectacular third goal.
His highly touted partner up front, Edinson Cavani, scored PSG's other goal but never came close to match his brio. Mostly, Anderlecht defenders could only stand and watch in awe. "He is too strong. He was so impressive. He was everywhere," Anderlecht defender Cheikhou Kouyate said.
Last weekend, images of Ibrahimovic went round the world after an amazing dexterity-defying backheel stab in a French League game against Bastia. Now, he showed his jaw-dropping skills in Europe's showcase club competition.
The rest of the match was almost irrelevant. Cavani exploited a defensive error in the 52nd minute with a clean finish, but no matter, the night was for Ibrahimovic. The victory left PSG with a maximum nine points from three games. Benfica and Olympiakos are five points behind, while Anderlecht has no points and has yet to score a goal.