(Reuters) - Paris Saint Germain’s Edinson Cavani struck a first-half goal and Neymar converted a penalty after the break as the Ligue 1 leaders won 2-1 at champions and title rivals AS Monaco to go nine points clear on Sunday.
Cavani opened the scoring in the 19th minute after Adrien Rabiot’s clever pass in the box found Julian Draxler who whipped the ball in for the league-leading Uruguayan to stab home his 16th Ligue 1 goal of the season.
Monaco went two behind when Almamy Toure pulled down Neymar and the Brazilian coolly slotted home the spot kick in the 52nd after a stuttering run-up before Joao Moutinho’s deflected free kick provided a late consolation for the home side.
The victory put PSG on 38 points after 14 games ahead of Olympique Lyonnais whose 5-0 hammering of Nice had put them second on goal difference above Monaco while Olympique Marseille are fourth on 28 points after a 1-0 home win over Guingamp.
With Monaco using three central defenders in an effort to contain the attacking trio of Cavani, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG wasted no time finding space on the flanks to launch their attacks.
The game was barely two minutes old when Neymar played in Mbappe with the former Monaco striker easily rounding goalkeeper Danijel Subasic but failing to hit the target, while Julian Draxler also missed a good chance before Cavani scored.
Neymar thumped a shot off the right-hand post early in the second half and Subasic got his fingertips to Mbappe’s chip before Toure’s moment of madness gave away the penalty.
PSG missed more chances and endured a nervy closing period after Moutinho pulled one back in the 81st but they held on for a win that barely reflected the gulf in class between the sides.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor; editing by Ken Ferris