Paris Saint-Germain 4 Nantes 1: Cavani double puts hosts six clear
Edinson Cavani continued his prolific season with a double as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 4-1 home victory over Nantes to move six points clear at the top of Ligue 1.
After defending champions Monaco drew away to Amiens on Friday, PSG took full advantage as they overcame a slow start to hand Claudio Ranieri's men only their second defeat from 11 league matches.
The hosts scored twice in quick succession shortly before half-time to seize control, Cavani putting them in front and Angel Di Maria scoring a fortuitous second.
Prejuce Nakoulma scored 55 seconds after being brought on as a second-half substitute by Ranieri, but Javier Pastore soon restored PSG's two-goal cushion and Cavani got his 15th goal in 12 league games this season late on to seal the points.
Neymar, the world's most expensive player, had a quiet outing, while Kylian Mbappe was left on the substitutes' bench for the first time since signing from Monaco and was not brought on by Unai Emery.
PSG have now won seven straight Ligue 1 home games and are unbeaten at Parc des Princes in the top flight for 30 matches.
Cavani blasted wide from the edge of the area with his first sight at goal, having shown strength to latch on to Neymar's pass, while Dani Alves had a 30-yard free-kick easily saved by Ciprian Tatarusanu as PSG struggled to create clear openings early on.
Nantes threatened at the other end when a fast break led to Lucas Lima crossing for Leo Dubois, who could only send his first-time effort over at the far post in a first half short of chances.
But a frustrating period for PSG came to an end in the 38th minute when Pastore found Cavani and the striker cut inside onto his right foot to slam a low shot past Tatarusanu from 12 yards, Neymar having won possession on the halfway line.
The second goal arrived in bizarre fashion less than four minutes later. After Di Maria had an effort saved by Tatarusanu, the Argentina international played a one-two with Alves from the resulting corner and saw his inswinging cross missed by team-mate Marquinhos and Nantes midfielder Abdoulaye Toure, as well as the keeper, before finding its way into the far corner.
Ranieri brought on Jules Iloki for Lima at half-time and then Nakoulma in place of Andrei Girotto as Nantes looked to reverse the momentum and his second change had an immediate effect.
On the hour mark, Iloki's cross from the right was helped back across the face of goal by Dubois and converted by Nakoulma from close range to give the visitors hope of a comeback.
But those dreams were crushed by Pastore just five minutes later, Tatarusanu's poor attempt to save his strike from inside the area seeing the ball loop up and in off the far post after Marco Verratti's throughball had created the opportunity.
Cavani got his second and PSG's fourth with 11 minutes remaining. The Uruguay international initially tried to feed Verratti, but was left with the simplest of finishes after Diego Carlos' attempted clearance was smashed against team-mate Nicolas Pallois in a piece of dreadful Nantes defending.
He had a late chance for a hat-trick, but Tatarusanu got down well to deny him shortly before a last-ditch Chidozie Awaziem clearance denied Neymar his chance to join the scorers as PSG stretched their advantage at the summit.
Key Opta stats:
- PSG have won their last 12 Ligue 1 games against Nantes, their longest winning streak against a current opponent in the top flight.
- Unai Emery's side have won their last 10 home Ligue 1 games against Nantes, their best run at home against this opponent in the top-flight.
- PSG have lost only one of their last 33 Ligue 1 games (W27 D5), against Nice on 30 April 2017 (1-3).
- PSG are on a 30-game home unbeaten run in Ligue 1 (W24 D6), with their last defeat coming back in March 2016 against Monaco (0-2). They have won their last seven home Ligue 1 games, their best run since September 2015-February 2016 (9).
- Nantes are winless in their last three away Ligue 1 games (D1 L2), after winning their previous three.