Paris Saint-Germain tightened their grip on first place in Ligue 1 thanks to a 1-0 success at Troyes on Saturday.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had to weather a spirited display from their opponents before Blaise Matuidi struck midway through the second half against his former club, securing a victory that put PSG 10 points clear of Marseille.
The early signs suggested PSG were going to endure another frustrating away day before Gregory van der Wiel’s cross on 65 minutes was met at the back post by Matuidi, whose sweetly-struck shot beat goalkeeper Yohan Thuram.
Ligue 1’s bottom side were the more impressive for long stretches of the encounter, particularly in the first period, when Salvatore Sirigu was regularly called into action.
The Italian shot-stopper was lucky early in the match as the frame of his goal denied Troyes’ Stephane Darbion, who was the benefactor of some excellent work from the cunning Benjamin Nivet.
Early in the second-half it became apparent that there was more vigour in PSG’s performance. Matuidi, in particular, was getting into the box more readily and even before he found the net the ex-Troyes man fired just wide.
Matuidi’s sole goal was enough to secure PSG maximum points and move the Paris-based outfit closer to their first league title since 1994.
At the other end of the table in France’s top tier, Evian TG took a step towards safety, thumping Rennes 4-2.
An own goal from Rennes central defender Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik put Evian ahead in the second minute but the visitors hit back 20 minutes later through a goal from Julien Feret.
Evian led at half-time, however, thanks to Kevin Berigaud’s 34th-minute goal.
Rennes rallied again in the 69th minute when John Boye scored but Evian emphatically claimed victory after Milos Ninkovic and Yannick Sagbo struck in the closing stages.
The victory took Evian one spot clear of Ligue 1’s drop zone, moving above Sochaux, and three points ahead of Nancy, who occupy 18th and the highest relegation position.
Nancy started brilliantly away to 15th-placed Ajaccio in a crucial clash when Paul Alo’o Efoulou scored after just four minutes but Mehdi Mostefa’s strike brought the home side level and the match eventually ended 1-1.
In other Ligue 1 results, Lorient thrashed Bastia 4-1, Bordeaux cruised to a 4-2 victory against Montpellier and Reims moved six points clear of relegation with a 2-0 triumph away to Brest.