The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
PSG beats Rennes 3-1 to stay 2 points clear of Monaco in French league
PARIS - Paris Saint-Germain bounced back from a poor run of form by defeating Rennes 3-1 in the French league on Saturday to keep a two-point lead over Monaco, which won 2-0 at Guingamp.
Thiago Motta curled a shot into the bottom corner to open the scoring in the 19th minute and Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his 14th league goal by converting a penalty in the 52nd.
Rennes winger Romain Alessandrini replied with a powerful free kick in the 67th but Edinson Cavani sealed the win by finishing off a counterattack in stoppage time.
"It looks easy but we still have to win our matches," PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. "When we're a bit below par, the opponents can create problems for us."
PSG was under pressure after losing two of its three previous matches in all competitions.
Also, Toulouse stunned fourth-place Nantes 2-1, Reims substitute Floyd Ayite scored in stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw with Evian, Lorient beat Ajaccio 2-1 for a fifth straight victory, and Nice ended a seven-game losing streak by edging Sochaux 1-0.
On Friday, Saint-Etienne won 1-0 at Montpellier.
PSG converted its first scoring chance when Motta stole the ball from Alessandrini to fire home a low drive from the edge of the box.
Rennes threatened only from corners in the first half with wide efforts from Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik in the 32nd and the 43rd.
PSG doubled the lead shortly after halftime.
Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil stopped a point-blank shot from Argentina winger Ezequiel Lavezzi in the 51st but his team gave away a penalty in the next minute when Cedric Hountondji tripped PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
Ibrahimovic scored from the spot by sending Costil the wrong way.
The hosts cut PSG's lead with a 25-yard free kick from Alessandrini that goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu could only palm into his net.
Rennes came close to equalizing in the 71st when Alessandrini fed Anders Konradsen, but Sirigu saved the Norway international's effort from a tight angle.
Cavani put the result beyond doubt in the first minute of stoppage time, taking a pass from Marco Verratti to cut inside Hountondji and send the ball into the bottom corner.
"We have some regrets because the first and the last goals came from turnovers," Rennes coach Philippe Montanier said. "There's no room for error against such a team."
Monaco earned a fifth straight victory to keep pace with leader PSG.
Anthony Martial, one of the most promising prospects in the league at 18, gave Monaco the lead after three minutes with an assist from Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez.
Guingamp was down to 10 men from the 22nd when defender Jonathan Martins Pereira picked up a second yellow card. Monaco capitalized on its numerical superiority as leftback Layvin Kurzawa doubled the lead by heading home a corner in the 42nd.
"I'm very satisfied although we must improve our final ball," Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said. "The players were very focused. I really hope they will stay very focused throughout the course of the season."
Monaco striker Radamel Falcao missed a fourth straight match because of a thigh injury.
On Sunday, Bordeaux hosts Valenciennes, Lille faces Bastia and Marseille visits Lyon.
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