Paris Saint-Germain overcame FC Metz 3-1 in their game in hand to move top of the Ligue 1 table.
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The reigning champions are now three points clear of their nearest challengers, Olympique Lyonnais, and with only four games to go, will be confident of retaining their domestic crown.
Once again Laurent Blanc’s side were without several key men; Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his suspension, while Salvatore Sirigu, Yohan Cabaye and Serge Aurier all missed out through injury.
However, there was a return for skipper Thiago Silva, who took his place in the heart of the defence alongside David Luiz.
Paris weren’t as vibrant as they had been at the weekend, in their 6-1 demolition of LOSC Lille, but they controlled the match throughout and, indeed, ended up beating the relegation strugglers comfortably.
Against Les Dogues, the capital club scored twice in the opening six minutes. They didn’t manage that on Tuesday, but they did take a firm grasp on the match when the outstanding Marco Verratti opened the scoring on 25 minutes.
Edinson Cavani was arguably the game’s outstanding individual.
He bagged PSG’s second just before half-time when he eluded an opponent with a delightful demi-Cruyff turn, before playing a one-two with Javier Pastore and firing home past Anthony Mfa Mezui.
There is definitely a case to be made that the Uruguayan thrives when Ibrahimovic is absent and he can play through the middle, and performances like this make it seem unlikely that PSG would offload the former Napoli man this summer.
Pastore ran him close for Man of the Match.
The Argentine playmaker assisted all three games—underlining a superb performance.
Before PSG could confirm victory, Metz staged a brief second-half comeback.
On-loan West Ham United striker Modibo Maiga pulled a goal back just after the break, but there was to be no fairytale comeback for Albert Cartier’s side.
They failed to build on the lifeline handed them by the Mali forward and ultimately were to concede again.
Pastore was again influential, passing the ball out to space on the right where Gregory van der Wiel, arriving late, saw his shot evade Mezui and cross the line.
The full-back has endured a tricky campaign and was clearly delighted with his goal.
The victory, Paris’s third in a row, puts them firmly in the driving seat for the remainder of the campaign. While their remaining matches—Nantes and Montpellier away and Guingamp and Reims at home—are all eminently winnable, some recent freak results will ensure Blanc encourages his charges not to lose focus.
Defeat means that Metz remain inside the bottom two.
With only four matches left, the Northern club sit eight points behind Reims in 17th and will be relegated if results go against them next weekend.