Di Maria scores as French leader PSG wins 1-0 at Rennes
PARIS (AP) Angel Di Maria struck the winner as French league leader Paris Saint-Germain won 1-0 at Rennes on Friday to maintain its unbeaten start to the season.
The Argentina winger scored in the 75th minute after being set up by Brazilian winger Lucas, giving him the perfect confidence-booster before PSG's trip to play Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Di Maria played for four seasons for Madrid before joining Manchester United last season, but it was an unhappy spell in northern England and he joined PSG in the offseason.
''It will do him a lot of good, he's a great player,'' PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said. ''He just needs to adapt to our league, and I hope he has a great game on Tuesday.''
PSG coach Laurent Blanc rested star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic ahead of the game in Madrid and PSG lacked sharpness in a dour first half.
The match turned when Marco Verratti came off the bench and 10 minutes later started the move for the goal.
Collecting the ball outside the PSG penalty area, the Italy midfielder advanced and then hit a superb cross-field pass to pick out Brazilian winger Lucas as he sprinted down the left.
Lucas took the ball in his stride and clipped a well-weighted pass toward the penalty area, where Di Maria finished with a neat low volley into the right corner for his third league goal in eight games.
''We were much better in the second half and we deserved the win,'' Matuidi said. ''We're full of confidence, and it was important to win here before going to Madrid.''
Rennes struggled to create chances, but went close in the 84th when Brazilian midfielder Pedro Henrique fired a shot wide of the left post.
Tempers frayed at the end as PSG midfielder Thiago Motta squared up to Rennes' Abdoulaye Doucoure after Doucoure had shoved him.
PSG leads second-place Angers by 10 points ahead of this weekend's matches.
Angers travels to play Monaco on Sunday, while third-place Caen - which is one point behind Angers - is at Corsican side Bastia on Saturday.