February 22, 2020
HOUSNI HATTRICK SENDS FORMER CHAMPIONS PSG INTO THE SEMI-FINALS
Three-time champions Paris Saint Germain produced the most dominant display of the tournament as they smashed five unanswered goals past FC Zenit St Petersburg to reach the last four of the 2020 Al Kass International Cup.
Player of the match Ilyes Housni took the plaudits with a fine hat-trick but it was a night when all of the PSG players impressed, and Zenit has no answer.
In fact, the Russians – who have conceded 14 goals in three matches - could have lost by many more as PSG created a host of chances with Jouvence Americo and Wilson Odobert enjoying fine matches on the flanks.
The opener came on 13 minutes courtesy of a superb curling effort by Housni. Ismael Gharbi, the two-goal hero in PSG’s 3-0 victory over Kashiwa Reysol, began the move with a delightful cross-field pass to find Americo wide on the left, and he fed the ball inside to Housni who curled a brilliant effort beyond Zenit keeper Bogdan Moskvichev.
It was a goal reminiscent of Hassan Aqboub’s effort of 24 hours earlier when the Moroccan curled home an almost identical shot during Mohammed XI Academy’s victory over Glasgow Rangers.
The longer the half went on, the more comfortable PSG seemed, and whenever Zenit did attack the Parisian defence was resolute with skipper El Chadaille Bitshiabu leading by example with an assured performance at the back.
Odobert crossed for Housni in the closing stages of the first half but his tame effort failed to trouble Moskvichev, although the Russian keeper was soon picking the ball out of the net after the same pair combined again to great effect.
Housni picked up the ball on the left and jinked past Iuri Koledin before crossing for Odobert to head home from close range in the second minute of added on time. It was a goal PSG fully deserved but the Russian defending should have been better as Odobert had far too much space.
Akim Belokhonov came on for Ilia Rodionov at half-time and within five minutes he had missed two glorious opportunities, but from then on it was all PSG.
PSG extended their lead on 58 minutes when Americo found the impressive Vimoj Mungu on the left and he crossed for Gharbi to sidefoot home.
Americo had a penalty appeal turned down and was then denied by a point-blank save from Moskivchev. The keeper pulled off another fine save from Mungu but the ball fell invitingly to Yohan Tade who had an open goal but somehow shoot wide.
PSG were creating wave after wave of attacks and Bitshiabu fired over after Americo set up yet another opening, but the French did grab a fourth when Housni netted his second of the match. Tade teed up the long-haired striker and he scored at the second time of asking after Moskivchev had saved his first effort.
There was still time for Housni to complete his hat-trick when firing home Enzo Tayamoutou’s cross on 87 minutes. It was the fourth goal of the tournament for Housni, who had netted with a perfectly-executed chip in the 2-2 draw with Barcelona during the group stages.
PSG will now face Inter Milan in the semifinals, which is likely to be a tighter affair as the Italians have conceded just two goals in their three matches so far, despite making several changes throughout the competition.