Goals from Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani and Blaise Matuidi ensured Paris Saint-Germain kept the pressure on Ligue 1 leaders Monaco with a 4-0 win over Guingamp at Parc des Princes.
After victories for Monaco and Nice on Saturday and Friday respectively, the champions were third in the table going into the game and they laboured for the best part of an hour against a Guingamp side coached by former PSG boss Antoine Kombouare.
The introduction of Javier Pastore as a second-half substitute seemed to turn the game and Di Maria opened the scoring three minutes after his Argentine compatriot came on.
Cavani provided the assist for the opener and spent the rest of the game tormenting the Guingamp defence, taking his tally for the league season to 29 with a well-taken pair of goals to forge a win made in South America. Matuidi then added gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time.
Before kick-off, PSG coach Unai Emery set his side the task of winning all their remaining Ligue 1 games and, while they only found their stride in the latter stages of this game, they look capable of doing just that.
In the absence of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva, Emery moved Serge Aurier into the centre of defence, while the right-back spot went to Thomas Meunier.
Belgium international Meunier forced a corner in the opening minute from which Aurier headed Di Maria’s delivery narrowly wide, before Guingamp countered and Marcus Coco hit a shot that struck Layvin Kurzawa on its way over the crossbar.
Another Di Maria corner after 17 minutes found the head of Cavani, who sent the ball crashing onto the crossbar, but as the half drew on PSG struggled to break down a well-organised Guingamp side who restricted their hosts to long-range attempts.
Limited space in midfield forced PSG to play a more intricate passing game and, when Di Maria threaded a neat ball through to Matuidi, Guingamp goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson did well to parry his left-footed shot away from danger.
PSG’s injury woes were compounded at the end of the first half, when Kurzawa took a knock and had to be replaced by Maxwell, before Jimmy Briand collected Presnel Kimpembe’s poor clearance but shot over the crossbar.
Guingamp’s patience almost paid off when Alexandre Mendy, on as a second-half substitute, put a close-range shot just wide under pressure from Kimpembe, and Emery sent on Pastore for Julian Draxler as he sought to bring the champions to life after 53 minutes.
The change had the desired effect three minutes later when Matuidi cut out Christophe Kerbrat’s pass and squared to Cavani, who swept the ball to the edge of the box where Di Maria lifted it over Johnsson with the tip of his left boot.
Guingamp repeated their mistake four minutes later, giving the ball away cheaply in midfield and Adrien Rabiot surged forward before picking out Cavani, who cut inside to beat Kerbrat and placed his shot in the far corner of the net.
Cavani blasted a free-kick narrowly wide and then went close with two headed attempts as he worked tirelessly for his 29th goal of the campaign.
That goal arrived when Di Maria switched the play from left to right with a precision pass that Cavani took in his stride before beating Johnsson with a low, right-footed shot, taking his tally in all competitions to 42.
Emery gave Lucas Moura a run out in the final few minutes and he made an impact, crossing to Matuidi, who arrived ahead of Jordan Ikoko to side-foot home PSG’s fourth on his 30th birthday.
Key Opta stats:
– PSG have won their last six home league games against Guingamp in Ligue 1, keeping a clean sheet in all six.
– Only Lionel Messi has scored more competitive goals (43) than Edinson Cavani (42) amongst the players from the top five leagues this season.
– Cavani has scored 29 league goals for PSG this season, equalling his highest tally for a team in a season from 2012-13 with Napoli.
– PSG hit the woodwork for the 10th time at home in Ligue 1 in 2016-17, a league high alongside Montpellier.