Nantes (France), February 5: Mauro Icardi and Thilo Kehrer were on target as Paris Saint-Germain ground out a 2-1 win against Nantes in the absence of Neymar at La Beaujoire on Tuesday (February 4).
The build-up to the game was overshadowed by talk of discontent at PSG, with Thomas Tuchel frustrated by Neymar's decision to hold a birthday party on Sunday (February 2) and Kylian Mbappe reacting angrily to being substituted in Saturday's 5-0 victory over Montpellier.
The announcement that Neymar would miss the trip to Nantes with a rib injury consequently proved controversial, but Icardi and Kehrer put the visitors on the path to what looked set to be a routine win.
Moses Simon capitalised on an error from Presnel Kimpembe in the 68th minute to set up a tense final but PSG held on to make it seven straight wins in all competitions and extend their unbeaten run to 20 games.
Icardi saw his first effort in the third minute denied by Denis Petric, while Mbappe had a penalty appeal ignored after going down under pressure from Andrei Girotto.
Mbappe raced in behind the Nantes defence but lifted his attempt over, before Kimpembe saw a header cleared off the line by Abdoul Kader Bamba.
PSG got the breakthrough their attacking play deserved in the 29th minute when Mbappe sprinted beyond Girotto and cut the ball back to Angel Di Maria, whose sweeping shot found the bottom-right corner with the help of the slightest of deflections off Icardi.
Girotto's attempt to cut out a cross from Di Maria sent the ball crashing against his own crossbar early in the second half, but they doubled their lead in the 57th minute when the Argentine's corner was headed home by Kehrer.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) February 4, 2020
The th goal of the season! pic.twitter.com/OLZ58YxWLo
Nantes responded positively and Kimpembe's attempt to flick a heavy pass from Marco Verratti to Kehrer was intercepted by Simon, who raced away and tucked a cool finish beyond Keylor Navas.
Substitute Thomas Meunier was kept at bay by Petric in the 90th minute and Renaud Emond missed a glorious chance to equalise in stoppage time, sending a tame volley too close to Navas.
What does it mean? PSG move further clear
With Marseille not in action until their visit to Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, PSG took advantage and opened up a 15-point lead at the summit of Ligue 1.
Regardless of the goings on in the dressing room and Tuchel having to dismiss talk of a crisis in his relationships with Mbappe and Neymar this week, it looks unlikely they will miss out on the title.
Di Maria a delight
While Mbappe and Neymar often get the headlines, Di Maria's form this season has been nothing short of sensational. He assisted both goals, though was unfortunate the first was taken away from him, and created seven chances in total.
Toure to blame
While it was 1-0, Nantes were still in with a shot of getting a result from the game, but his marking following a corner was poor and Kehrer climbed above him to head in PSG's second.
PSG entertain Lyon at the Parc des Princes on Sunday (February 9), while Nantes are in action at Dijon one day prior.