By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA (Reuters) – Edinson Cavani scored twice in the second half to give Paris St Germain a 3-1 Champions League Group A win over resilient Ludogorets on Wednesday at the ground where they made their European soccer debut 34 years ago.
It was no more than PSG, who were beaten 1-0 at the Vasil Levski stadium by another Bulgarian side – Lokomotiv Sofia – in the now defunct Cup Winners Cup in 1982, deserved after dominating throughout with Cavani running the show.
The result put PSG top of the group with four points from two games, ahead of Arsenal on goal difference after the English side secured a 2-0 home win over FC Basel.
Ludogorets’s Brazilian left back Natanael opened the scoring with a stunning free kick in the 16th minute but the visitors soon seized the initiative, enjoying more of the possession and levelled the score four minutes before the interval.
Blaise Matuidi latched on to Marco Verratti’s through ball to race clear and gave keeper Vladislav Stoyanov no chance with a precise left-foot shot, scoring his first goal of the season.
The visitors dominated after the break and Cavani, who also scored in PSG’s 1-1 draw against Arsenal in their opening match, netted two times in the space of four minutes.
The Uruguayan striker made it 2-1 with a firm header from Angel Di Maria’s clever assist from free kick and added another one from close range only a minute after PSG keeper Alphonse Areola saved Cosmin Moti’s penalty.
“It was a tough first half,” said Cavani. “After we equalized, we played a different game and got the second from a freekick. Winning was important for us because we’ve worked hard.”
The win in Sofia brought relief to PSG coach Unai Emery as his team came into the game on the back of a 2-0 defeat by Toulouse in Ligue 1 and their defender Serge Aurier was sentenced to two months in jail on Monday)
“We played very well as team,” said Emery. “They are a good side and, thankfully, Areola saved the penalty. It was very important to stay calm after the Ludogorets goal. We created a lot of chances and we won.”
Ludogorets have to play their European home matches in Bulgarian capital Sofia because their 8,800-capacity Ludogorets Arena, in the small northeastern town of Razgrad, is not suitable to host such games.
Ludogorets and Basel both have one point.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Pritha Sarkar)