The decision of PSG’s super rich Qatari owners to bring in the world class sports ambassador and footballer David Beckham to help their Champions League charge was vindicated as the Parisians ran out 2-1 winners at the Mestalla last night.
Boss Carlo Ancelotti selected the former England captain to travel on the team bus and to take up a position tucked in beside Director of Football Leonardo in the stands – and the decision proved to be an inspirational one.
PSG started in dominant form, with Beckham resplendent in his dark club suit and tie, and took the lead on 10 minutes. Argentine live wire Ezequiel Lavezzi played a one two with his compatriot Javier Pastore, bore down on the host’s goal and, taking advantage of keeper Vicente Guaita’s distraction at Beckham’s selfless presence in the stands, cracked a right footed shot into the corner.
PSG’s crucial second came just before half time, and again Beckham played a central role. The impressive Lucas beat Andres Guardado easily down the right before pulling the ball back to Pastore inside the D. Fresh from New York Fashion Week, Beckham raised an immaculately groomed eyebrow and produced a winning, trademark grin – mesmerising the hapless keeper as Pastore drove the ball through his legs and into the back of the net.
Unsurprisingly, as the veteran Beckham struggled with the pace and flagged in the second half, the hosts gradually worked their way back into the game. But it wasn’t until the 90th minute that they were rewarded for their spirited efforts – Rami connected with Tino Costa’s free kick to give the Spanish side a glimmer of hope for the second leg.
But the drama didn’t end there. Zlatan Ibrahamovic saw red with only seconds remaining for an injudicious challenge on Guardado. The Swedish hitman will now hope to work on his fledgling partnership with Beckham during the second leg in Paris.
PSG and Ancelotti will no doubt reflect on an impressive first appearance from Beckham and will hope that his influence will tell again in the return tie when Beckham may well take up a position on or near the bench.