PARIS (AFP) - David Beckham is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with the Champions League after an impressive full debut for Paris Saint-Germain in the biggest fixture in French football on Wednesday night.
After a 15-minute cameo appearance from the bench as PSG beat bitter rivals Marseille 2-0 in the league on Sunday, the veteran Englishman was handed his first start for his new club as the two clubs met again in the last 16 of the French Cup.
He lasted for fully 85 minutes before being taken off to a deafening ovation from a full house at the Parc des Princes as the capital club once again won 2-0.
"I felt good," he said after the game, won by the home side thanks to a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. "I've been working hard over the last month to get fit but it helps to have players around you like those here."
Beckham admitted that he enjoyed sampling the occasion, which included having the chance to go directly up against compatriot Joey Barton.
There was a coming together of the two players at one point in the first half but, despite Barton's notoriously short temper, Beckham laughed off the incident as just one of several clashes all over the pitch as the game was played out in a highly-charged atmosphere.
"I did get a little elbow from Joey, but it was nothing really," he said.
"He does well for them and is a talented player so good luck to him.
"It was quite spiky out there tonight, but it was like that at the weekend too, and it is just part of the game when you consider the rivalry between the clubs." Nothing that Beckham does goes unnoticed, but his performance could be best described as quietly efficient, albeit infused with moments of real quality.
Among the flashes of inspiration was a trademark long ball for Ibrahimovic in the build-up to the second goal.
"I was just very happy to play tonight and to help set up goals for others," he added, having also been involved in the build-up to PSG's decisive second goal against OM on Sunday.
"I had a slight hand in the second goal on Sunday and again here so I'm happy.
"I came here knowing that I wouldn't be in the team from the word go. We have a good team and I want to add something to it.
"If that means starting then great, and if it means being on the bench then great.
"I played in some big games in the USA but you always miss being involved in big games like this in Europe," he added, with his mind turning to next week's Champions League last 16, second leg, clash against Valencia.
"It is a while since I played in the Champions League so I am excited. It is a big game for the club but it doesn't mean that it will be easy." PSG go into that game with a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Spain, and coach Carlo Ancelotti could be tempted to throw the 37-year-old straight into his side for the match at the Parc des Princes after being impressed by what he saw against Marseille.
"Beckham played very well, as he usually does," said the Italian, who will be without Ibrahimovic for the game against Valencia due to suspension.
"His passing was good, as was his positioning, and he complemented (Blaise) Matuidi well in midfield. He showed he can play.
"Sometimes he will play, and sometimes he will be on the bench."