Cavani scores twice as league leader PSG rout Nantes 4-1
PARIS: Edinson Cavani scored twice as unbeaten Paris Saint-Germain overcame a slow start to beat Nantes 4-1 and move six points clear at the top of the French league on Saturday.
With Neymar having a quiet game, and missing a late chance, it was left to Cavani and playmaker Javier Pastore to shatter one of the league's best defenses.
Angel Di Maria and Pastore added the other goals for a free-scoring PSG team that has 43 goals in just 13 games. Cavani has a league-leading 15 goals. With 19 in 17 overall, he is on course to beat his career-best 49 last season.
With defending champion Monaco held by Amiens to 1-1 on Friday, PSG is already in a strong position to reclaim the title, having won it four straight seasons until Monaco ended that run.
PSG travels to Monaco next weekend.
"We have been very good, it's important to keep the same level at every game, with a quality game," PSG coach Unai Emery said. "We have a big game in Monaco, it's a difficult team but we are already slightly ahead and we want to play there with confidence."
Nantes came into the match with the third best defense in Ligue 1, having let in only nine goals in 12 games.
A defense well-marshalled by center back Diego Carlos contained PSG's attacks well and neutralized the threat of Neymar in a confident opening 30-minute spell. But then Nantes started giving the ball away carelessly.
After losing possession on the halfway line, Nantes was punished in the 38th minute.
Neymar picked up the loose ball and found Pastore, who slipped a pass to Cavani down the left. The striker cut inside Carlos with his first touch and drilled the ball powerfully inside the near post with his next.
PSG's second came four minutes later and had a touch of fortune about it, as Di Maria's swinging cross from the left eluded everyone and bounced inside the right post.
Substitutes galvanized Nantes, and pulled a goal back in the 60th when Prejuce Nakoulma — his confidence high after a recent hat trick for Burkina Faso - struck from close range moments after coming off the bench.
PSG restored its two-goal cushion five minutes later when Pastore's firm shot from the right side of the penalty area was poorly dealt with by goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, who pushed the ball up in the air and sent it looping over his head and in.
Cavani finished with his second.
POOR START FOR LAMOUCHI
Rennes' new coach, Sabri Lamouchi, certainly hoped for a better start in the French league.
The replacement for the departing Christian Gourcuff, the former France international watched powerless as his new team lost at struggling Strasbourg 2-1 after playing with 10 men for about half an hour.
The loss ended a four-game winning run for Rennes.
The Brittany side trailed 1-0 when Morgan Amalfitano received a straight red card for a reckless tackle from behind. Stephane Bahoken made it 2-0 and Adrien Hunou pulled one back in the 89th.
Lamouchi, who played 12 times for France, previously managed Ivory Coast and Qatari club El Jaish.
Dijon striker Julio Tavares scored twice as Dijon beat Troyes 3-1, Guingamp was held by Angers to 1-1, and last-place Metz managed a goalless draw at Toulouse.