Edinson Cavani’s late header secured Paris Saint-Germain a hard-fought 2-1 win at Lyon on Sunday to capitalise on Nice’s earlier slip-up in Ligue 1.
Lyon looked destined to secure a point thanks to Mathieu Valbuena’s equaliser at the start of the hosts’ marvellous second-half display, but Cavani shattered their hopes nine minutes from the end to continue his brilliant season in France and take PSG to within a point of pacesetters Nice.
PSG made light work of Lyon at times in the first half, dominating throughout and deservedly taking the lead through Cavani’s penalty in the 30th minute.
But PSG, who saw numerous first-half chances wasted, were made to rue their prolificacy just after the break, as Valbuena levelled with his first Ligue 1 goal since October 2015 just after coming off the bench, a goal that spurred Lyon on to exert some control of their own.
Hatem Ben Arfa, making his first league start since September 9, had no impact against his former side and as the second period progressed Bruno Genesio’s men only became more threatening, giving PSG no end of problems.
But Cavani rounded off a rapid break towards the end with his 13th league goal in 12 matches to secure the win, making the most of Nice’s stalemate with Bastia earlier on Sunday.
PSG gradually became the dominant force and were adamant that they should have been awarded a penalty in the 23rd minute, but referee Ruddy Buquet dismissed their protests after Lucas Moura appeared to be nudged over by Jeremy Morel.
Lucas was at the centre of things again shortly after, but his attempt to meet Serge Aurier’s low cross with a flicked finish backfired, as he knocked the ball on to his other leg with the goal at his mercy.
They were ahead after half an hour, though.
Rafael clumsily hacked Thiago Motta to the ground while attempting to clear his lines to concede a penalty and Cavani converted the spot-kick.
Lucas should have added a second a few moments later, only for the Brazilian to fire wide of the left-hand post when played into the right side of the area.
Clearly unimpressed with his team’s efforts in the first half, Genesio replaced Maciej Rybus with Valbuena and he made an instant impact, slamming home a left-footed half-volley from 12 yards after Rafael’s lovely curling strike came back off the left-hand post.
Lyon almost went ahead a few moments later, but Alexandre Lacazette stabbed just wide of the near post after meeting Morel’s low cross.
The hosts’ improvement was significant as they carved PSG open at will and Rachid Ghezzal should have scored their second just after the hour mark, but his touch allowed Alphonse Areola to pounce on the ball when played into the box by Lacazette.
And PSG took full advantage of Lyon’s inability to convert their chances, as substitute Thomas Meunier provided a fine cross at the end of a swift counter-attack and Cavani bundled in from close range to sink their hosts.
Key Opta stats:
– PSG have won their last 14 Ligue 1 games played in November, their last defeat coming v Rennes (1-2) on 17 November 2012.
– Cavani has scored five goals in seven league games v Lyon, only against Caen and Reims he has scored as many. He made the most shots (3) and the most shots on target in Sunday’s game (2).
– In all comps in the top five European leagues, Cavani has scored 18 goals, only Lionel Messi has a highest tally (19).
– Cavani has scored 13 goals in 2016-17, joint-highest tally in the top five European leagues alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
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