PARIS: A second-half brace from Edinson Cavani saw champions Paris Saint Germain come from two down to earn a 2-2 draw with Ligue 1 leaders Nice at the Parc des Princes on Monday.
The visitors withstood an early onslaught to go into the break 2-0 up after a sumptuous free-kick from Wylan Cyprien on 32 minutes and a slick left-foot shot from Alassane Plea right on the break.
The result puts Nice on 40 points from 17 games, one clear of second placed Monaco, who beat Bordeaux 4-0 on Saturday and four clear of under-pressure Unai Emery’s champions.
Nice coach Lucien Favre looked relieved with the point after Cavani had finished from close range on 46 minutes and then on the hour mark before the champions ripped into the Ligue 1 leaders all the way to the final whistle.
“We really suffered out there, they imposed a terrible rhythm early on and it was difficult for us, but then came that extraordinary goal,” Favre said after the game.
Cavani had the ball in the back of the net again with 15 minutes to go but Blaise Matuidi was offside when receiving the ball to provide the final pass.
The PSG front line’s assault saw Nice ‘keeper Yoan Cardinale produce seven saves, the last a brilliant stop on the line from a Layvin Kurzawa header in stoppage time.
But earlier Cavani was in the right place at the right time to prod home the equaliser after Cardinale had punched away a cross right into his captain Dante and the Uruguayan pounced on the loose ball.
The opening goal came when Cyprien whipped a ferocious free-kick round the PSG wall into the top right hand corner against the run of play.
And then, just before the break, Plea beat both Thiago Silva and Marquinhos at the edge of the PSG area to dispatch a deft left-foot shot that saw the home side booed off at the break.
In the second half, Paris concentrated on the flanks and the two Cavani goals, which took his league taly to 16 so far, came from wide crosses from Serge Aurier and Kurzawa.
Mario Balotelli came on as a late substitute and quickly produced a snap shot that PSG keeper Alphons Areola saved well. Hatem Ben Arfa, who switched to PSG from Nice in the summer, also made a late cameo.
Cyprien said after the game his side had never expected to be top at this stage.
“That match taught us something we didn’t know about ourselves. It keeps us top and we can do even better,” the striker said.
PSG players refused to speak to reporters after the game having decided to impose a media blackout.
On Saturday, second-placed Monaco impressed as Radamel Falcao netted a hat-trick in the 4-0 crushing of 10-man Bordeaux.
Earlier Sunday a goal from Romain Hamouma and a series of saves from Stéphane Ruffier saw Saint-Etienne beat Guingamp 1-0 at home to climb to eighth after qualifying for the Europa League last-32 in midweek.
After a tiring Champions League game with Sevilla in midweek, Lyon held firm for a 1-0 home win over Rennes thanks to a first-half goal from Mathieu Valbuena which sees them sit fourth.
“We’re not playing well but the points are there, two more than at this time last season,” said Lyon coach Bruno Genesio
Goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, however, was their man of the match with five notable saves.