Beckham shows mettle as PSG beats Marseille 2-0By Jerome Pugmire
PARIS — David Beckham showed his aging legs can still last the pace and Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his prolific scoring as the two stars helped Paris Saint-Germain beat bitter rival Marseille 2-0 to reach the French Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Beckham had played a 15-minute cameo from the bench in last Sunday’s 2-0 win against Marseille in the league, helping to set up the second goal for Ibrahimovic. The 37-year-old former England captain stood up to the test of a frenzied Cup game which saw him yellow-carded late on, shortly before going off in the 86th minute.
“I am very happy to last 86 minutes. I enjoyed it,” Beckham said. “I felt good. I have been working hard for the last few weeks. It helps to have players around me who work the way they do and play the way they do.”
Positioned just in front of the back four, Beckham kept PSG’s midfield ticking over with some neat passing.
“He had a solid game and he showed he could last,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “There are a lot of things he can show us — his experience, his passing, his aggression. I don’t think he played like a 37-year-old tonight.”
Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, appeared in little mood to share the spotlight, as he took his season’s tally to 26 goals in all competitions, grabbing his first in the 34th minute before earning and converting a penalty in the 64th.
His goals came hours after UEFA announced a two-match ban for the Swedish forward, who will miss PSG’s next Champions League match in the last 16 and also stands to miss the first leg of the quarterfinals if the team advances. The club will appeal against the sanction.
Beckham almost set up a second goal with a corner from the left in the 62nd but center half Zoumana Camara’s header was cleared off the line. He was then involved in a standoff with Marseille forward Jordan Ayew as Ayew squared up to him twice. After the first incident, Ayew was keen to continue the argument and they briefly leant their heads into each other before the referee intervened.
“It was spiky the whole game. It was like that at the weekend and it will be like that every PSG-Marseille game,” Beckham said. “You always miss occasions like this. I had certain occasions like this in the U.S. Games like tonight are enjoyable.”
Beckham was booked and was taken off Ancelotti to chants of “Dav-eed Beckham, Dav-eed Beckham,” at Parc des Princes.
“We didn’t need to wait until tonight to know that he is a quality passer and that he is dangerous from free kicks,” Marseille coach Elie Baup said.
Beckham sat very deep, just in front of the defense with Blaise Matuidi and Clement Chantome either side of him, and occasionally pushing up.
His clever pass released Gregory van der Wiel down the right in the 12th minute and his low cross reached Jeremy Menez, who shot straight at goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Beckham drew an ‘Ole’ from the Parc des Princes crowd and chants of “Beckham, Beckham” rang out after he showed superb skill to loft the ball over a Marseille player’s head.
Marseille launched its first serious attack in the 28th when striker Andre-Pierre Gignac was sent scampering free down the right and his cross was intercepted by ‘keeper Nicolas Douchez.
PSG broke up the other end and Ibrahimovic forced Mandanda into a low save, but the imposing Swede did not have long to wait to score.
Although Beckham is famed for his long passes, it was Chantome who picked out Ibrahimovic with a superb 40 meter pass and he shrugged off a challenge before planting the ball under Mandanda. Ibrahimovic has scored five goals in three games against Marseille this season — including three in the league.
Moments after the goal, players from both sides started pushing and shoving after midfielder Alaixys Romao clattered into Beckham, although he did not react to the challenge and even stepped in as a peacemaker as firecrackers were let off in an electric atmosphere.
Beckham was late trying to make a couple of tackles, his legs struggling to keep up with sprightly winger Mathieu Valbuena as he twice turned past him. By the 70th, he started to tire and placed his hands on his hips as he took a breather.
There was still time for a clash with Ayew, and even hothead midfielder Joey Barton briefly got involved as he appeared to reproach Beckham’s involvement in the tussle, which led to staff members from both teams rushing off the bench to briefly join in as tempers frayed.
“I got an elbow from Joey. He explained it just after,” Beckham said. “Joey does well for them and is a talented player. Good luck to him.”
Earlier, UEFA said its disciplinary panel extended an automatic one-match sanction for Ibrahimovic’s challenge on Valencia midfielder Andres Guardado in stoppage-time of a last-16, first-leg match earlier this month. The ban would rule the influential forward out of the quarterfinals, first leg if PSG advances.
Speaking after his team’s win, Ancelotti said: “To get a two-match ban is incredible and I hope UEFA go back on their decision. I really hope they will reverse it because to get two games is incredible. Yes, we will appeal.”
In other matches, Lorient, Bordeaux and Nancy advanced.