Icardi strikes again to edge PSG past Brest
Mauro Icardi came off the bench to score a late winner as Paris Saint-Germain extended their Ligue 1 lead to nine points despite another unconvincing performance in a 2-1 victory at Brest on Saturday.
The reigning French champions, who were beaten by then-bottom club Dijon last week before scraping past Club Brugge in the Champions League, needed Icardi's ninth goal in eight games to secure the three points.
"We can't score four goals each time," said PSG coach Thomas Tuchel.
"I'm very happy. It's five wins in six games. I didn't expect us to have our best match, but we had to be calm and fight."
Brest, promoted from the second tier last season, caused PSG problems throughout and had levelled with 18 minutes remaining through Samuel Grandsir.
Second-placed Angers missed the chance to cut the gap to seven points as they were held to a goalless draw at Reims.
Tuchel saw his long injury list extended before kick-off as goalkeeper Keylor Navas pulled out of the game after suffering a thigh problem in the warm-up.
The Costa Rican joined Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, defenders Thomas Meunier and Thilo Kehrer and midfielder Ander Herrera on the sidelines.
Edinson Cavani made his first start since August, but struggled in front of goal.
"For Edi (Cavani), it wasn't easy because he's lacking rhythm," added Tuchel. "He has to manage his competition with Icardi. He is full of confidence."
The visitors claimed a 39th-minute lead as Angel Di Maria raced clear before clipping a chipped finish over Brest goalkeeper Gautier Larsonneur to score his eighth goal of the campaign.
His effort survived a VAR review for offside to send PSG into the interval ahead.
Cavani wasted two clear-cut chances in the space of three minutes just after the hour mark, and Brest made him pay.
Substitute Grandsir collected the ball inside the area and fired a low effort through goalkeeper Sergio Rico, making his Parisian debut after signing on-loan from Sevilla.
But the Spaniard redeemed himself shortly afterwards, keeping out Haris Belkebla's long-range strike.
On-loan Inter Milan striker Icardi had the final say, though, pouncing inside the six-yard box in the 85th minute to scramble the ball over the line after Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's cross was only partially cleared.
Later on Saturday, last season's runners-up Lille were held to a 0-0 draw by Metz at the Stade Pierre Mauroy to end a disappointing week on a low note.
Lille, who were knocked out of the Champions League by a 4-1 loss at Valencia in midweek, sit third, already 11 points behind PSG.
Monaco made it three wins in four league games to move into the top half of the table as Aleksandr Golovin's first-half strike was enough to edge out struggling Dijon 1-0.
On Sunday, unpopular Lyon coach Rudi Garcia takes his new side to their rivals and his former club Marseille.
© 2019 AFP