PARIS: Mauro Icardi scored his first Ligue 1 goal as Paris Saint-Germain stayed two points clear at the top of the table with a 4-0 thrashing of high-flying Angers on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
The reigning champions had suffered a shock 2-0 loss in their previous home game against Reims, but had no such trouble at the Parc des Princes on this occasion despite their opponents’ surprisingly strong start to the season.
PSG head into the international break in control of the title race, while Nantes leapfrogged Angers into second place following a 1-0 win at home to Nice.
“It’s a good end to this period for us, and with a clean sheet, that’s good,” said Paris coach Thomas Tuchel, who saw three of his recent signings score as Pablo Sarabia and Idrissa Gueye also found the net.
“With the recruits, we have gained personality and experience. We are more reliable.”
Neymar’s late strike rounded off a strong individual display as he continued to repair his relationship with the team’s fans after failing in his effort to force through a return to Barcelona.
“It (the situation) is better, it’s easier,” said Tuchel of Neymar. “It’s up to him to show that he is decisive, that he gives everything.
“He is suffering and working for us. It’s not necessary to talk… He scored another goal today, he did a lot of dribbling, decisive things.
“He is capable of doing more extraordinary things, and it’s to him to show them.”
Tuchel opted to rest Angel Di Maria, as on-loan Inter Milan striker Icardi was rewarded for his first PSG goal in midweek at Galatasaray with a full Ligue 1 debut.
The capital city club remained without the injured Edinson Cavani, while Kylian Mbappe missed out after suffering a setback in his recovery from a thigh problem.
But the first opportunity fell to in-form Angers forward Rachid Alioui, although the Algerian dallied on the ball and home goalkeeper Keylor Navas was able to save with his foot.
The hosts took the lead in the 13th minute, though, as Ander Herrera played in Sarabia, who cut inside and wrong-footed Ludovic Butelle in the Angers goal to net for the first time since joining PSG from Sevilla in the close-season.
The visitors continued to threaten on the counter-attack, with Navas having to beat away Baptiste Santamaria’s long-range drive.
The game was all but ended as a contest eight minutes before the break, as Neymar and Sarabia combined to give Icardi the simplest of tasks to fire into the roof of the net.
Although Spain international Sarabia scuffed a rebound after his initial shot was cleared off the line just before the hour mark, former Everton midfielder Gueye was on hand to tap in his first PSG goal.
But there was little respite for Angers, as Neymar launched a one-man mission in his attempt to get on the scoresheet.
The Brazilian was twice denied by Butelle in quick succession, before the goalkeeper produced a brilliant save with his legs when the world’s most expensive player was clean through on goal.
Neymar eventually found a way past Butelle in the final minute, rounding the ‘keeper and slotting into an empty net to complete a straightforward outing for PSG with his fourth goal of the campaign.
Nigeria international Moses Simon headed in an 86th-minute winner after terrific play from Kader Bamba to earn Nantes a sixth victory in seven matches.
English forward Stephy Mavididi grabbed his first goal for Dijon in a 1-0 win over Strasbourg, while Aleksandr Golovin was sent off for Monaco in a 3-1 loss at Montpellier.
Brest climbed out of the bottom three following a 2-0 defeat of fellow strugglers Metz. Bordeaux jumped up to fourth with a 3-1 win at Toulouse.