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Cavani double rescues PSG as Nice prove worthy leaders

Franck Fife, AFP | Edinson Cavani saves the day for PSG as the hosts claw they way back from a 0-2 deficit against leaders Nice at the Parc des Princes on Sunday, December 12, 2016.

Nice reclaimed top spot in Ligue 1 with a thrilling 2-2 draw at champions Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday as the title race remained wide open almost halfway through the season.


Lucien Favre's Nice were 2-0 up at halftime with goals by Wylan Cyprien and Alassane Plea but Edinson Cavani struck twice as PSG narrowly avoided a first home league loss in almost nine months.

Nice have 40 points from 17 games and lead Monaco, who enjoyed a 4-0 win at Girondins de Bordeaux on Saturday, by a point at the top of Ligue 1.

Third-placed PSG, who are conceding goals at an alarming rate, are four points off the pace.

Their profligacy at the back was on display again on Sunday as they conceded two girls in the first half, despite dominating possession.

Nice were on the back foot as the hosts pressed high up the pitch, but there were no other clear opportunities for the hosts, who were keen to bounce back after their embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Montpellier last week.

Instead the visitors went ahead after 32 minutes when Cyprien curled a superb 25-metre free kick past PSG’s goalkeeper Alphonse Areola

Plea then doubled the Nice tally on the stroke of halftime when he benefited from a misunderstanding between centre backs Marquinhos and Thiago Silva and beat Areola from close range.

Cavani to the rescue

PSG pulled a goal back one minute into the second half, Cavani tapping in from Serge Aurier's pinpoint cross after yet another impressive rush down the flank by the Ivory Coast fullback.

Cavani then equalised on the hour, poking the ball home after Cardinale's save had bounced onto Dante and into the path of the PSG striker, who netted his 16th league goal this season.

With both coaches not wanting to settle for a draw, Nice's Italian striker Mario Balotelli came on for Plea while PSG's Hatem Ben Arfa took Verratti's place 15 minutes from time.

Cavani was close to giving the hosts victory in the closing stages but his attempt from Ben Arfa's cross went just wide.

In a measure of how well Nice are playing, the players were bitterly disappointed not to go home with all three points.

"We wasted our lead," Cyprien said. "But let's not be too dramatic. It's still a good point that will serve us well."

Lyon squeeze through

Olympique Lyonnais are fourth on 28 points after Mathieu Valbuena's first-half strike gave them a 1-0 home win on Sunday against Stade Rennes, who had Rami Bensebaini sent off late on.

Valbuena, who only managed one goal in 26 games last season, is finally finding his best form for Lyon after a difficult move from Dinamo Moscow.

But Rennes will be disappointed to lose their fourth spot in the table after having dominated much of the game in Lyon.

Meanwhile, Guingamp missed out on a chance to move ahead of their Breton rivals after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Saint-Etienne.

Although winger Romain Hamouma scored the winner for Saint-Etienne, the best performance came from its goalkeeper, Stephane Ruffier, who made a string of excellent saves to deny the visitors.

Saint-Etienne's win moved them up to eighth place, just one point above resurgent Marseille, who beat Dijon 2-1 on Saturday.


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