Paris: Paris Saint-Germain shrugged off the absence of a suspended Neymar to beat basement side Nimes 3-0 in Ligue 1 on Wednesday, while crisis-hit rivals Marseille let slip a two-goal lead against Lens.
Angel di Maria pounced on a misplaced pass to steer PSG ahead on 17 minutes at the Parc des Princes, with Pablo Sarabia heading in a cross from the Argentine to double the advantage.
Thilo Kehrer rattled the crossbar at a corner before PSG goalkeeper Sergio Rico, again filling in for the injured Keylor Navas, reacted sharply to tip over from Lamine Fomba.
Kylian Mbappe bagged a third for the hosts midway through the second half with a superb curling strike from 20 yards, his league-leading 15th goal of the season.
PSG surrendered top spot at the weekend following a shock 3-2 loss at Lorient, Mauricio Pochettino’s first defeat since taking charge, and remain three points back of leaders Lille ahead of Sunday’s trip to Marseille.
“It’s a good reaction after the disappointment of the defeat at Lorient,” said Pochettino. “The team created chances and controlled the match.”
“We didn’t play the two halves with the same intensity, the players perhaps had Sunday’s game on their mind a bit,” he added.
“We’ll have to be at our best for 90 minutes then, like in the Champions Trophy.”
After three league defeats in a row, Marseille surged 2-0 ahead at Lens as Florian Thauvin and Arkadiusz Milik, making his first start for the club, struck near the end of the first half.
But Florian Sotoca halved the deficit right after half-time and Facundo Medina flicked in the equaliser with an hour gone, the 2-2 draw leaving Marseille with just one win in 10 games in all competitions.
Nasser Larguet, head of the club’s academy, took control of the team following the suspension of coach Andre-Villas-Boas on Tuesday. The Portuguese had earlier offered to resign following a row over transfers.
“When you lead 2-0 you can have regrets, but I’m very proud of the players,” said Larguet.
“They lived up to expectations in terms of commitment. I take my hat off to them because it was difficult physically at the end.
“I’m sure there’s a strong link between the physical and mental side and recent events have left a mark on the players because they were very attached to the coach.”
Five in a row
Lille recorded their fifth consecutive victory with a 3-0 win at Bordeaux.
Yusuf Yazici, Timothy Weah and Jonathan David scored second-half goals as Lille stayed out in front of chasing duo Lyon and PSG.
Turkey international Yazici slammed a pass from Jonathan Bamba into the roof of the net on 54 minutes as Lille eventually broke down Bordeaux.
US international Weah then applied the finishing touch from a Luiz Araujo lay-off as the Brazilian ran free of the Bordeaux defence following a blistering counter-attack just past the hour.
Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan made a superb reflex save to turn away Hwang Ui-jo’s header, and the visitors added a late third through Canadian substitute David.
“What was the difference tonight? The squad and Mike (Maignan) who was key. Benoit (Costil) didn’t have many saves to make and Mike had three, he kept us in the match,” said Lille coach Christophe Galtier.
Lyon stay two points behind Lille after their 1-0 victory at struggling Dijon, who are still winless at home this term.
Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta collected a pass from Karl Toko Ekambi to slot in the game’s only goal on 22 minutes.
Monaco made it six wins from six in the new year as captain Wissam Ben Yedder netted twice in a 2-1 victory over Cote d’Azur neighbours Nice.
Ben Yedder’s first-half penalty was cancelled out by a Pierre Lees-Melou goal, but the France striker rifled in a free-kick from distance to keep Niko Kovac’s side within touch of the top three.
Fifth-placed Rennes conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to resurgent Lorient.
Metz extended their unbeaten run to six matches following a 1-1 draw with Montpellier, while Brest drew 2-2 at Strasbourg and the game between Reims and Angers finished goalless.
Raymond Domenech’s search for a first win as Nantes boss continues following a 1-1 draw at Saint-Etienne.