Angel Di Maria, playing his first Champions League game since he appeared in the 2014 final with Real Madrid, needed only four minutes to make his mark back in Europe’s elite competition as Paris St Germain beat Swedish champions Malmo 2-0 on Tuesday.
The colly efficient nature of their Group A win underlined the belief they are likely to advance from Group A with 10-time European champions Real with Edinson Cavani wrapping up the victory with a 61st minute header at the Parc des Princes.
Di Maria grabbed the spotlight from Zlatan Ibrahimovic who looked a little ring-rusty against his first club after his injury-blighted satart to the season.
He was replaced by Javier Pastore 15 minutes from time.
Malmo thought their moment had come in the 26th minute but Markus Rosenberg’s goal was disallowed after the forward had fouled Thiago Silva.
“It’s important to start with a win,” said coach Laurent Blanc.
“But in the first half we could have been more patient. At the end of the day we could have scored three or four goals.”
PSG thought they had added a third through Ezequiel Lavezzi at the end but the goal was disallowed when Cavani was adjudged to be in an offside position.
Much of the build up to the match centered on Ibrahimovic facing his boyhood side, but the Swede, who missed the last league game because of an abdominal muscle injury, for once did not take the starring role.
“It was like a dream, playing against them,” said Ibrahimovic afterwards.
But the leading role fell to Di Maria, back in the competition after his miserable season at Manchester United last year.
He showed he has what it takes to lift PSG to the next level after the French champions were knocked out in the quarter-finals in the three previous editions.
The Argentine, who left Manchester for Paris this summer, beat the offside trap to collect Marco Verratti’s pass on the right flank and from the inside the box, whipped the ball into the far top corner for his first PSG goal.
Di Maria came close to doubling the tally but his long-range attempt shaved Johan Wiland’s right post as PSG imposed their possessive pattern on the game.
Malmo, however, played tighter after the break but they still conceded another just after the hour when Cavani headed home after Maxwell’s cross from the left had been deflected into his path by Ibrahimovic.
David Luiz, unmarked at the penalty spot, missed an opportunity to put the hammer down on the game, sending a header straight at Wiland from close range.
The visitors, however, appeared to have abandoned all hope by then and with the three points secured, Blanc substituted Di Maria, who received warm applause from the crowd, with Lavezzi coming on five minutes from time.
Di Maria and PSG travel to Ukraine to face Shakhtar in their next match before he has a chance to repeat his magic against his former club when Real visit the Parc des Princes on Oct. 21. Real started their campaign with a 4-0 win over Shakhtar on Tuesday.