Edinson Cavani helps seal PSG win over Marseille
Paris Saint-Germain took a huge step towards securing their first-ever back-to-back Ligue 1 title triumph with a confident 2-0 win over Marseille in Le Classique.
Following a goalless but entertaining first half, Maxwell needed just five minutes of the second to send the champions into a lead with his third of the season before substitute Edinson Cavani wrapped up all three points with little over 10 minutes to play.
Victory for Laurent Blanc’s men, their third in a row in the league, takes them eight points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after Monaco suffered defeat at St Etienne on Saturday.
Marseille looked to harry and press their hosts from the outset but PSG could and should have been ahead as early as the seventh minute when Lucas Moura found Ezequiel Lavezzi who rounded the goalkeeper only to fire inches wide of the open goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic poised.
The diminutive Argentinian continued to cause problems early on with his characteristic direct running but could only fire over when well placed before Lucas Moura was a whisker away from scoring what would have been the goal of the season.
Picking up inside his own half, the Brazil international single-handedly took on the Marseille team before chipping Steve Mandanda in the visitors’ goal, but the returning Rod Fanni got back to deny the former Sao Paulo playmaker a stunning opener.
Marseille went close themselves when, after 25 minutes, Florian Thauvin picked out Mathieu Valbuena on the left who saw his curling effort pushed away by Salvatore Sirigu before Andre-Pierre Gignac fired over from the follow-up.
With tackles coming in thick and fast a lenient Ruddy Buquet threatened to let things get out of hand as the two sides went back and forth in search of that all important opener, which nearly came PSG’s way just before the break but Ibrahimovic surprisingly headed the wrong side of the post from Lavezzi’s delivery.
The scores remained level at half-time but, unlike the first half, the hosts needed just five minutes after the restart to get in again and this time it was to much greater success.
Ibrahimovic popped up on the left and, after Nicolas N’Koulou cut out his initial pass, the Sweden captain picked out Maxwell at the second attempt and the Brazilian slotted home to send the Parc des Princes crowd wild.
Bouyed by the opener, PSG continued to press for a second but, following some clever work from Blaise Matuidi and Ibrahimovic, Lucas Moura saw his goal-bound effort blocked.
With the crowd chanting his name in anticipation of a return from injury, Blanc threw on Cavani with 20 minutes left and, just nine minutes later, the Uruguay international killed off the visitors with a second goal.
Marco Verratti’s flick found Gregrory van der Wiel and the Dutch full-back’s delivery was perfect for Cavani who powered a header beyond Mandanda to wrap up a deserved three points.
Marseille did rattle the woodwork late on when Valbuena headed Dmitri Payet’s corner against the Sirigu’s upright but that was as good as it got for OM, who remain rooted in fifth place.