A second-half strike from Edinson Cavani gave Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 victory over Lille in Friday’s Ligue 1 encounter at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
The reigning champions are enduring a difficult start to the 2016-17 campaign and were trailing leaders Nice by six points heading into the encounter.
PSG had to settle for a scoreless draw at home against Marseille last week and were therefore desperate to make amends and return to winning ways, with Angel Di Maria in particular out to prove a point.
The Argentina international was heavily criticised following an underwhelming outing versus OM and missed out on the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist this week, but put in a lively performance in the opening 45 minutes.
He was unfortunate not to net his first Ligue 1 goal of the season, though, as he was denied by goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama twice, while also having a goal ruled out for a controversial handball decision.
Cavani, meanwhile, wasted three fine chances to open the scoring, before eventually getting his 10th Ligue 1 goal of the season to deliver PSG the win, with a hapless Lille unable to bounce back in the remainder of the game.
PSG were in charge right from the opening whistle and should have gone a goal up when Thiago Silva set Di Maria on his way with a superb long ball. The winger controlled well before firing a powerful shot that was sublimely saved by Enyeama, with Cavani’s attempt from the rebound lacking the required power.
Di Maria caused the Lille defence all kinds of trouble in the opening stages and he had another chance to break the deadlock, only to aim an effort straight at Enyeama from the left-hand side of the area.
The 28-year-old was then unfortunate to have a goal disallowed when he was adjudged to have handled the ball as he rounded Enyeama before rolling it into the empty net, prompting furious PSG protests as referee Benoit Bastien consulted with his assistant.
The visitors had another fine chance in the closing stages of the first half when Cavani beat the offside trap after being set up by Di Maria inside the area, but the Uruguay international blasted his shot high and wide as it remained goalless at half-time.
Unai Emery’s men continued to dominate after the break and Cavani should have done better after being presented with a fine chance following some good work from Blaise Matuidi, wildly firing a shot over the crossbar instead.
But Cavani made amends in the 65th minute on his fourth fine chance of the evening. The Ligue 1 top scorer controlled a pass from Di Maria on his chest, shrugged off his marker and beat Enyeama with a powerful shot on the turn.
Younousse Sankhare had a fine chance to level the scoring from close-range late on after being set up by Eder, but the midfielder failed to get enough power on his attempt as PSG recorded a narrow, but deserved victory which puts them up to second in the table.