Cavani scores twice as PSG beats Nantes 2-0 to pressure Nice
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 22, 2017 10:07 AM
FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 file photo, PSG's Edinson Cavani kicks the ball during their French League One soccer match between PSG and Lorient at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France. Cavani punished Nantes for missing clear chances by scoring both goals as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 away from home to move one point behind leader Nice. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Edinson Cavani punished Nantes for missing clear chances by scoring both goals as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 away from home to move one point behind leader Nice.
Cavani is thriving now that he is out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's shadow and has 20 league goals in 19 games this season — the most he has scored since joining PSG from Napoli for more than 60 million euros ($64 million) in the summer of 2013.
Cavani has 26 goals in as many games in all competitions this season and is on track to beat his career-best mark of 38 in his final season with Napoli.
Ibrahimovic usually grabbed the headlines for PSG in recent years, but when he left to join Manchester United in the offseason this freed Cavani to play in his favored center forward's role, rather than doubling up as a winger to suit Ibrahimovic.
Cavan's first goal came when he finished off a flowing move and a first-time cross from Brazilian winger Lucas in the 21st minute, and he curled in a superb free kick midway through the second half.
PSG is level on points with Monaco but is in third place because Monaco has a superior goal difference.
Free-scoring Monaco, which has plundered 60 goals in 20 games, faces 19th-placed Lorient on Sunday and a win will put it two points clear of Nice at the top.
It was PSG's fifth straight win in league and cup competitions without conceding a goal, but Emiliano Sala should have put Nantes ahead before Cavani's first goal and Nantes also missed a chance to equalize before his second.
Heading into the match, Nantes had only lost once in seven games since coach Sergio Conceicao took charge early last month. Confidence showed as Nantes began at a frenetic pace, closing down PSG's players and depriving them of space to pass.
The pressure almost worked when PSG right back Thomas Meunier clumsily hacked the ball away in the eighth minute. It landed straight for Sala, who had scored the winner for Nantes in the two previous matches. But with the goal at his mercy, the Argentine striker hurried his shot and it flew into the side netting.
Moments before PSG's second goal, Colombian midfielder Felipe Pardo swapped passes with Sala on the edge of the penalty box and burst into the area, but his low shot was deflected wide for a corner.
"They put us under pressure, but we got out of it well," PSG coach Unai Emery said.
The only drawback for PSG was when Germany winger Julian Draxler limped off in the 68th. Moments earlier, he sat down clutching his left calf muscle.
"It's just a cut," said Emery, whose side faces Monaco next Sunday in a table-topper that could have a strong bearing on the title race.
Midfielder Valentin Vada's first career league goal came in the first minute as Bordeaux beat Toulouse 1-0 to move up to eighth place.
Toulouse played the second half with 10 men after midfielder Yann Bodiger was sent off in the 43rd minute.
Bordeaux's win moved it level on points with seventh-placed Rennes, which has a better goal difference.
Former France star midfielder Yoann Gourcuff scored the equalizer for Rennes in a 1-1 draw away to fifth-placed Guingamp.
Mali striker Cheick Diabate, who scored 50 league goals in six seasons with Bordeaux, netted twice in the first 20 minutes as 18th-placed Metz beat Montpellier 2-0 at home.
Dijon and Lille drew 0-0, while Caen vs. Nancy was postponed because of a frozen pitch.
In Sunday's other games, Saint-Etienne faces Angers and Lyon faces Marseille, with forward Memphis Depay hoping to make his Lyon debut after joining this week from Manchester United.