Paris Saint-Germain bounced back from a poor run of form by defeating Rennes 3-1 Saturday to consolidate their top spot in the French league.
PSG star players Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani again featured on the scoresheet at Stade Rennes, though Thiago Motta put PSG ahead with a superb first-half strike, curling a shot into the bottom corner of the net to open the scoring in the 19th minute.
Ibrahimovic netted his 14th league goal of the season when he converted a penalty seven minutes after the break. Rennes winger Romain Alessandrini scored a powerful free kick in the 67th but Cavani sealed the win by finishing off a counterattack in stoppage time.
The Paris club moved up to 43 points from 18 games, with second-placed Monaco on 38 ahead of their trip to Guingamp later on Saturday. Lille are third with 36.
“It looks easy but we still have to win our matches,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “When we’re a bit below par, the opponents can create problems for us.”
PSG was under pressure after losing two of its three previous matches in all competitions. Still, with Ibrahimovic and other key PSG players back after missing the 2-1 Champions League defeat at Benfica on Tuesday, they were expected to easily beat 13th-placed Rennes.
PSG dominated possession and converted its first scoring chance when Motta stole the ball from Alessandrini to fire home a low drive from the edge of the box.
Rennes threatened only from set-pieces in the first half. Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik headed wide a corner from Alessandrini in the 32nd before pouncing on a poor clearance from a corner to shoot wide in the 43rd.
PSG doubled the lead shortly after halftime.
Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil stopped a point-blank shot from Argentinian winger Ezequiel Lavezzi in the 51st but his team gave away a penalty in the next minute when Cedric Hountondji tripped PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
Ibrahimovic scored from the spot by sending Costil the wrong way.
The hosts cut PSG’s lead with a 25-yard free kick from Alessandrini that goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu could only palm into his net.
Rennes came close to equalizing in the 71st when Alessandrini fed Anders Konradsen, but Sirigu saved the Norway international’s effort from a tight angle.
Cavani put the result beyond doubt in the first minute of stoppage time, taking a pass from Marco Verratti to cut inside Hountondji and send the ball into the bottom corner.
“We have some regrets because the first and the last goals came from turnovers,” Rennes coach Philippe Montanier said. “There’s no room for error against such a team.”
(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2013-12-14