PARIS, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Paris St Germain’s Julian Draxler proved his worth when the Germany midfielder scored his first Ligue 1 goal to inspire the champions to a 1-0 win at Stade Rennes on Saturday.
Draxler, who joined PSG from VfL Wolfsburg for a reported 38 million euros ($40.44 million) in the winter break, found the net with a fine right-foot effort six minutes before the break.
The victory put PSG on 42 points from 20 games, behind second-placed Monaco on goal difference and two points adrift of leaders Nice, who host Metz on Sunday when Monaco visit Olympique de Marseille in the late game.
Draxler, who started on the left flank in support of Edinson Cavani, relegated Angel Di Maria to the bench, while Lucas was fielded on the right. The German brought creativity to the side, forcing Benoit Costil into a fine save after nine minutes.
Draxler then perfectly set up Marco Verratti, who appeared to be brought down in the area by Costil in the 29th minute only for the Italy midfielder to be booked for diving.
Verratti, however, returned the favour 10 minutes later, finding Draxler in the box for the midfielder to beat Costil.
The visitors had another penalty claim turned down by referee Benoit Bastien after Thiago Motta went down in the area.
With the win in sight, Draxler was replaced by Adrien Rabiot as coach Unai Emery added defensive steel in the 72nd minute.
Rennes had a decent chance 13 minutes from time but Kevin Trapp tipped away Benjamin Andre’s long-range shot.
The defeat leaves Rennes seventh on 28 points.
$1 = 0.9398 euros Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris