Ligue 1

PSG defeats Nice, title within reach

Zlatan Ibrahimovic helps put PSG in strong title position.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic helps put PSG in strong title position.
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PARIS (AP)

Paris Saint-Germain closed in on the French league title Sunday with a 3-0 victory over Nice that restored its nine-point lead over Marseille.

With just five rounds left, the big-spending French club now looks unstoppable in its attempt to win a first league crown since 1994.

Jeremy Menez gave PSG the lead from close range in the 10th minute, and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic doubled the lead by converting a penalty in the 65th. Substitute Clement Chantome then rounded off the win in the 88th, leaving PSG on 70 points after 33 games.

Marseille has 61, while Lyon is another two points behind in third.

''This match was very important because keeping a nine-point lead means the title is getting closer,'' PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

PSG was under pressure after Marseille beat Brest 1-0 on Saturday and third-place Lyon edged Montpellier 2-1 on Friday.

Ibrahimovic nearly gave PSG the lead after four minutes when he hit the post. Unlucky with his finishing, the Sweden striker instead took on the role of playmaker. He made a cross for Javier Pastore, who chipped the ball over Nice goalkeeper David Ospina to feed Menez, and the France international just had to tap in.

Menez was quite wasteful during the rest of the game despite outstanding service from Ibrahimovic. The Sweden striker knocked a high ball down for his teammate in the 27th, but he was denied by Ospina.

Ibrahimovic then cut the ball back for Menez, who miskicked from eight yards in the 52nd. Taking another pass from Ibrahimovic, Menez again missed the target in the 78th.

PSG finally netted the second after Ospina was betrayed by a heavy touch and ended up tripping Ezequiel Lavezzi inside the area to be sent off.

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From the spot, Ibrahimovic beat substitute goalkeeper Joris Delle.

PSG dominated the closing minutes with its numerical superiority. Thiago Silva burst from the back to feed Ibrahimovic, but the Sweden striker's low effort was saved by Delle in the 80th.

Ibrahimovic then played a one-two with Matuidi to set up Chantome, who netted from close range.

''It's very easy to find the motivation because the title is very close,'' Ancelotti said. ''It's very important for everybody at this club to win this season after a 19-year (league title) drought. We're very close, we need six points in our next five matches. Everybody is very focused.''

Nice's only scoring chance came in the 23rd when Kevin Anin's header from a corner was tipped over by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

''We lacked a bit of efficiency and a bit of presence. We didn't dare enough,'' Nice coach Claude Puel said. ''It's a pity that we conceded that penalty and that ejection which put an end to our ambitions.''

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