Di Maria scores twice as PSG win ups pressure on Monaco

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain struggled but prevailed against Angers 2-0 to keep the pressure on French league leader Monaco after Angel Di Maria scored twice on Friday.

Di Maria's stunning free kick gave the defending champions the lead in the first half, and the winger completed his team's seventh consecutive away win on the break with five minutes left. The result lifted PSG level on points with Monaco.

PSG has lost only one game in 2017 — a 6-1 humiliation at the hands of Barcelona in the Champions League — and is still on course to defend its domestic treble. PSG has already won the League Cup and remains involved in the French Cup.

On Saturday, Monaco hosts struggling Dijon, a team that has failed to produce a clean sheet in two months. Boosted by its 3-2 Champions League win at Borussia Dortmund midweek, Monaco is aiming for a sixth consecutive league win to restore its three-point lead over PSG.

The race for the French title is a three-way fight between Monaco, its Riviera neighbor Nice, and PSG. Nice, lagging four points behind with a game less to play, hosts Nancy on Saturday.

Injury-hit PSG had to deal with the absence of Thiago Silva, Layvin Kurzawa, Julian Draxler, Grzegorz Krychowiak, and Hatem Ben Arfa, and it showed. The visitors had only a couple of good chances in the first half and relied on a set-piece to break the deadlock when Di Maria scored with a superb curled free kick over the wall and in.

Angers — which lags 35 points behind Monaco in 12th place — pushed for an equalizer throughout the second half and nearly scored in the 72nd when Cheikh N'Doye forced Kevin Trapp to a superb save with a header under the bar.

Di Maria completed his brace with a low shot past keeper Alexandre Letellier from Lucas' assist at the end of a quick counterattack.