Teen midfielder Adrien Rabiot scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 3-1 to move provisionally top of the French league on Saturday.
The 19-year-old, who was not in coach Laurent Blanc’s side at the start of the season and was almost sold in the summer, scored with a fine curling effort in the first half, and prodded in the second just after the break.
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Captain Thiago Silva slammed the ball into the roof of the net in the 74th to make it 3-1, after striker Wissan Ben Yedder pulled a goal back in the 51st.
League leader Lyon can restore its two-point lead over PSG if it beats Nantes at home on Sunday, while Marseille can move level on points with PSG if it wins at Saint-Etienne.
”What pleased me is that we managed to create chances and we scored goals. We’ve had the chance to go top three or four times before and we couldn’t do it. Maybe this is a sign,” Blanc said.
”Obviously it’s only provisional, but perhaps it has sunk in that we don’t have any more points to lose. It’s always positive to be first and with 52 points from 26 games we’re not far away from a title-winning rhythm.”
Blanc took Rabiot off near the end so he could get an ovation from the fans at Parc des Princes.
”I’m happy for Adrien. When he came off a few weeks ago he was jeered and that affected him,” Blanc said. ”Don’t forget that he’s a young player, hardly even 20, the future of PSG. He has a lot of room for improvement and I’m happy he played well.”
Decimated by injuries and with defender David Luiz and midfielder Marco Verratti suspended, Blanc’s resources were stretched.
The PSG bench included 18-year-old Roli Pereira de Sa, who has never played for the first team, and 19-year-old Presnel Kimpembe, who has made only one substitute appearance.
Top-scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic almost got into the penalty area after some neat trickery on the left flank, but the opening first half was bereft of attacking flair until PSG took the lead.
Ibrahimovic fed Rabiot with a cushioned layoff, and Rabiot did the rest, curling a lovely shot into the left corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Toulouse threatened little, but goalie Salvatore Sirigu stayed awake and made a smart save from midfielder Abel Aguilar’s header shortly before the break.
Rabiot grabbed his second of the game after some fine play from Javier Pastore on the right wing. Pastore ghosted past two players and picked out Rabiot, who poked the ball in from close range.
But PSG’s tendency to concede soft goals crept in again as striker Ben Yedder was left unmarked and headed in.
With so many injuries and suspensions, Blanc was given a scare when Ibrahimovic went down clutching his knee after a challenge. Thankfully for Blanc, he got back up, and almost scored with a curling shot moments later.
Ibrahimovic is suspended for the next two games: Away to Monaco in the league next weekend, and against Monaco in the French Cup quarterfinals three days later.
In other games, Wahbi Khazri’s penalty earned sixth-place Bordeaux a 1-1 draw at Rennes; Corsican side Bastia beat Lille 2-1 with goals from forward Giovanni Sio and Floyd Ayite; and striker Emiliano Sala netted twice in Caen’s 4-1 win against relegation struggler Lens.
The match was interrupted after Caen’s fourth goal as fans in the Lens end threw projectiles onto the field and then at riot police.
Evian’s home game against Lorient was postponed because of heavy snowfall.