Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery acknowledged that his team are not yet up to the standard expected of serious Champions League contenders despite their 3-0 win over Basel on Wednesday.
Goals from Angel Di Maria, Lucas and Edinson Cavani, with a late penalty, gave PSG an ultimately comfortable victory that keeps them on course to qualify for the last 16 from Group A.
Quarter-finalists in each of the last four seasons, the French champions will likely secure their place in the next round if they pick up a point when they face Basel again in Switzerland next month.
However, Emery knows they must improve upon what was a patchy performance against unlucky opponents who were denied three times by the woodwork at the Parc des Princes.
“It is an important three points but I am not as happy as I’d like to be,” the Spaniard said after seeing his side struggle in the first half and then improve as the game went on.
“The first half was not good. That’s true. We were saved by the posts but we scored, and at 1-0 the match opened up for us and we had chances.”
PSG missed the injured Thiago Motta but in the veteran Italian’s absence Adrien Rabiot performed well alongside Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi.
“In the second half, after Rabiot and Verratti changed positions, and with a bit of patience, we started to play better,” Emery added.
“Rabiot had a good game. He is a good player who is capable of becoming a top player.”
The PSG players celebrated exuberantly with their supporters at the end of the game after Cavani’s penalty, his 17th goal of the season for club and country, added gloss to the score-line.
But Emery admitted his team “need to work to improve” and he will hope former Real Madrid and Manchester United star Di Maria can start to have more influence on the side after he scored his first goal of the season late in the first period.
The Argentine came off towards the end after asking to be replaced because of a minor injury, but Emery said he did not expect the problem to be serious ahead of this weekend’s meeting with bitter rivals Marseille.
PSG and Arsenal are now level on seven points at the top of Group A, with the Gunners continuing their fine recent form by hammering Ludogorets 6-0 in London.
The two group favourites look certain to progress, leaving Basel to fight it out for third spot and a Europa League place with the Bulgarian club.
“Paris were clinical and we lacked luck when we hit the woodwork three times,” said the Swiss club’s coach Urs Fischer after seeing Michael Lang, Seydou Doumbia and Marek Suchy all strike the frame of the goal.
Renato Steffen was also denied by Alphonse Areola when clean through with the game still goalless.
“Football is not fair. I am very disappointed but I think when we look back on this game there will be a lot of positives,” he added.
“The team played well, but we leave empty-handed and that hurts today.”
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