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 scoring 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 goals in 20 league matches, 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 with a firm header from Cavani.
Rennes striker M’Baye Niang’s neat flick drew Rennes level in the 28th, but he was lucky to stay on the field in the game 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 a relieved-looking Niang a yellow card, and maintained his decision despite a video review clearly showing Kehrer’s foot bending under the weight of Niang’s 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 for Tuchel’s side than a midtable Rennes side lacking poise and ambition. In the space of little more than 10 second-half minutes, PSG ruthlessly punished Rennes three times 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.