PARIS (AP) Edinson Cavani set up Angel Di Maria for the opening goal and then scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain shrugged off a sluggish first-half performance to beat Guingamp 4-0 in the French league on Sunday.
Cavani’s goals have largely carried PSG and the Uruguay striker has an outstanding record of 42 in 41 games this season, including 29 in the league. Midfielder Blaise Matuidi added the fourth goal in injury time.
Defending champion PSG remains three points behind league leader Monaco with seven games left, although the lead is effectively four points because Monaco’s goal difference is +19 better.
Nice is four points behind Monaco, having played one game more than the top two clubs. Nice beat Lille 2-1 on Friday and Monaco won 1-0 at Angers on Saturday, thanks to Radamel Falcao‘s 25th goal of the season.
“We’re holding on to Monaco and Nice aren’t far behind,” Matuidi said. “It’s a great league this season.”
Guingamp was the last team to beat PSG in the league, shortly before Christmas, and was gaining in confidence before carelessly losing possession near the halfway line in the 56th minute.
The ball was pinged quickly to Cavani rampaging down the left, and his fizzing pass across the penalty area rolled into the path of Di Maria, who advanced before lofting the ball over Swedish goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson.
Four minutes later, Guingamp was caught out again near the halfway line and two quick passes sent Cavani into the penalty area. He was tackled but won the loose ball and curled it into the bottom right corner.
His second of the night was even better, as he latched onto a superb cross-field pass from Di Maria and cushioned the ball into his path before driving a low shot into the bottom left corner in the 71st minute.
Although Cavani hit the crossbar with a glancing header in the 18th, and Johnsson saved a shot from Matuidi, mid-table Guingamp looked sharp breaking forward during the first half.
PSG seemed nervous and center half Presnel Kimpembe’s risky pass out from the back landed straight at the feet of forward Jimmy Briand, whose shot flew just over the bar, moments before the break.
Shortly after halftime, Guingamp forward Alexandre Mendy hit the side netting after bursting into the area.
“We weren’t very good in the first half, but we did much better in the second,” Matuidi said on Canal Plus television.
Ultimately, two errors let PSG back in the game, and the individual class of two players costing more than 60 million euros ($64 million) each made the difference.
Marseille lost ground in the chase for a place in next season’s Europa League.
After Toulouse dominated the first half, playmaker Dimitri Payet twice went close to winning the game for Marseille.
With 20 minutes left, Payet’s powerful strike from just inside the penalty area drew a spectacular save from goalkeeper Alban Lafont.
Then, five minutes from time, his free kick from the edge of the area went just over.
Marseille remains in sixth place after a third straight league draw, one point behind fifth-place Bordeaux with six games remaining.
Striker Martin Braithwaite hit the crossbar in the first half for Toulouse, which is in ninth place.
“It’s a fair result,” said Marseille coach Rudi Garcia, whose side has scored once in the last three games. “I’m not worried, but we must start finishing better and improve our attacking play.”
Substitute Benjamin Corgnet rescued a point for Saint-Etienne with a powerful header 20 minutes from time.
Burkina Faso striker Prejuce Nakoulma gave Nantes the lead in the 15th minute, making it five goals in six games since joining in January.
Saint-Etienne is in seventh place, three points behind Marseille and three ahead of eighth-place Nantes.