Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his fifth Ligue 1 brace of the season as Paris St. Germain restored their eight-point lead with a 2-0 win over St Etienne.
Two first-half strikes from the champions’ top scorer were enough to secure Laurent Blanc’s men their seventh straight win and maintained their impressive lead over second-placed Monaco.
Les Verts were looking to close the gap on third-placed Lille and almost got off to a perfect start when Franck Tabanou’s rasping 30-yard drive looked destined for the back of the net until Salvatore Sirigu got across to save.
Any hopes of taking a surprise lead were soon quashed though when Ibrahimovic set PSG on their way in bizarre circumstances. The Sweden captain picked out Blaise Matuidi, but with the midfielder being flagged offside he chose to leave the ball and PSG’s top-scorer made no mistake with a clinical finish after referee Lionel Jaffredo waved play on.
The hosts looked to turn the screw and had a penalty shout turned down when Edinson Cavani took a tumble inside the area before Ibrahimovic inexplicably missed from four yards out after Ezequiel Lavezzi had picked him out.
St Etienne were really struggling with the hosts’ slick play and Cavani could have doubled their lead but somehow fired wide of the goal after Ibrahimovic found him brilliantly before Yohan Cabaye saw an effort from distance tipped away by Stephane Ruffier.
However, their pressure paid off with half-time approaching when Matuid found Cavani on the left and he teed up Ibrahimovic to volley beyond Ruffier for his 25th league goal of the season.
Christophe Gaultier’s team almost handed themselves a lifeline straight after the restart but Benjamin Corgnet could only find the side-netting with just Sirigu to beat after Yohan Mollo saw an initial shot blocked by Alex.
At the other end Lucas Moura went close to adding a third for PSG but he headed wide from Marco Verratti’s cross as the hosts tried to kill off the game.
The hosts had late opportunities to wrap up all three points but Cavani was wasteful again after Maxwell picked him out while Ibrahimovic saw his free-kick kept out by Ruffier but in the end a brace by PSG’s number 10 proved enough.