League leader PSG beats Rennes 4-1 to stay 13 points ahead
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 28, 2019 07:50 AM
FILE - PSG's Edinson Cavani gestures after scoring the first goal of the game during the French League One soccer match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain at Stade Louis II in Monaco, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain restored its 13-point lead at the top of the French league with a resounding 4-1 home win against Rennes on Sunday.
PSG's all-time top scorer Edinson Cavani scored two, and winger Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe also netted, as PSG extended its unbeaten run in Ligue 1 to 20 games this season. PSG has played two games less than second-placed Lille.
With Neymar facing an indefinite period of time out injured, it could become a race between Mbappe and Cavani to finish as Ligue 1's top scorer. The 20-year-old Mbappe has a career-best 18, while the veteran Cavani has 16 and is one clear of Lille's Nicolas Pepe.
Free-scoring PSG has 66 league goals so far, including 13 in the past two home games after routing Guingamp 9-0 last weekend .
Rennes was the last side to beat PSG in the league, winning 2-0 in Paris in last season's penultimate game. Hopes of a repeat were dashed when Cavani pounced in the eighth minute as a clever move opened up the Rennes defense.
Cavani showed great awareness to let a pass from midfield glide past him into the path of a sprinting Di Maria down the left. Di Maria's cross into the penalty area was met by Cavani's firm header.
Rennes striker M'Baye Niang's neat flick drew Rennes level in the 28th, but he was lucky to stay on the field when, moments later, he flew into a reckless tackle and heavily caught the standing leg of PSG defender Thilo Kehrer around his ankle.
Referee Karim Abed showed Niang a yellow card, and maintained his decision despite a video review clearly showing Kehrer's foot bending under the weight of the clumsy challenge.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel watched anxiously, even more so considering he is already without the injured Neymar and Marco Verratti . PSG travels to face a reinvigorated Manchester United side for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match on Feb. 12.
United will be far more testing than a midtable Rennes side lacking poise and ambition. In the space of little more than 10 second-half minutes, PSG ruthlessly punished Rennes for sloppily giving the ball away.
Di Maria deftly chipped goalkeeper Tomas Koubek in the 61st after latching onto Thiago Silva's long pass; Julian Draxler set up Mbappe six minutes later for a clinical low finish; and Mbappe provided for Cavani's tap-in after 72 minutes.
Jason Denayer headed in a second-half goal as Lyon won 1-0 at Amiens, keeping the pressure on Lille in the fight for second place and automatic qualification for next season's Champions League.
Lyon is in third position, which secures a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds, and trails Lille by three points after 22 of 38 games. Lille won 2-1 Friday at Marseille .
Both of Denayer's goals this season have been winners, with his other effort in a 1-0 home success against Saint-Etienne in November. The burly Belgium center half met Netherlands forward Memphis Depay's 50th-minute cross from the right with a downward header.
Montpellier is sixth after winning 2-0 at home to Caen, thanks to second-half goals from striker Gaetan Laborde and an own-goal from center half Paul Baysse.
It was Montpellier's first league win since beating Monaco on Dec. 1 during Thierry Henry's ill-fated and short spell in charge of Monaco . Henry was fired on Friday as the club re-hired Leonardo Jardim who was fired to make way for Henry in October .
Toulouse drew 0-0 at home to Angers.