PARIS: Edinson Cavani shrugged off his Champions League woes to score four goals in the first half as Paris Saint-Germain romped to a one-sided 6-0 win at Caen in Ligue 1 on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
The Uruguayan, charged with filling Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s sizeable boots this season, was criticised for missing several gilt-edged chances in PSG’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Tuesday, despite scoring the opener against the Premier League club inside 42 seconds.
But he hit back by scoring four times in the space of 35 first-half minutes at the Stade Michel-d’Ornano as PSG claimed their most convincing win so far under new coach Unai Emery.
Lucas Moura and Jean-Kevin Augustin added further goals after the break as PSG ended a run of three games without a win in all competitions and went top of the table on goal difference from Monaco and Nice ahead of the rest of the weekend’s games.
“We have confidence in Edinson. When he has five chances and only scores one, like on Tuesday, I tell him to be calm,” said Emery.
“For me, the most important thing is that he creates chances. On Tuesday they didn’t go in, today they did, but he played the same game.”
With this game coming just 72 hours after Paris faced Arsenal in their Champions League opener, Emery opted to leave Thiago Silva and Marco Verratti on the bench at kick-off.
Thomas Meunier replaced Serge Aurier at right-back but Alphonse Areola kept his place in goal at the expense of Kevin Trapp while Hatem Ben Arfa was again left out of the visitors’ squad in Normandy.
Damien Da Silva headed narrowly wide for Caen before PSG opened the scoring in the 12th minute, Cavani turning the ball in at the back post after Lucas had dummied a low Maxwell cross from the left.
The champions then won a penalty midway through the first half when Lucas was brought down in the box by Syam Ben Youssef and Cavani stepped up to beat Remy Vercoutre from 12 yards.
Vercoutre saved from a powerful Lucas strike but Cavani got in front of Ben Youssef to convert another low Maxwell cross and complete his hat-trick—his third in Ligue 1—on 38 minutes.
His and PSG’s fourth came in stoppage time at the end of the first period as he once again applied a first-time finish after being set up by Meunier.
That was Cavani’s eighth goal for club and country this season but it was also his last act of the evening, a slight thigh strain meaning he was replaced by Jese Rodriguez for the second half.
Augustin, another substitute, set up Lucas to smash in the fifth goal and then found the target himself with 12 minutes remaining as Paris recorded their biggest victory since beating the same opponents by the same score in April.
Monaco, fresh from winning at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Wednesday, can reclaim top spot when they host Rennes on Saturday.
Nice visit Montpellier on Sunday before Marseille host Lyon in the game of the weekend.