Ibrahimovic fires PSG past St Etienne, Monaco edge Lyon
Paris Saint Germain, fresh from progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals, capped a profitable week with a 2-0 win over Saint Etienne on Sunday
Paris: Paris Saint Germain, fresh from progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals, capped a profitable week with a 2-0 win over Saint Etienne on Sunday.
The Ligue 1 leaders' closest rivals Monaco had earlier cut the gap to five points after a controversial 3-2 win over Lyon in a game where the referee subsequently admitted to mistakes on all three of Monaco's goals.
But PSG regained their eight-point cushion on Claudio Ranieri's side with superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic putting the game to bed with two first half goals.
This latest stepping stone on what is becoming a relentless march to the French title extended PSG's unbeaten league run to 13 matches.
Coach Laurent Blanc brought back several players rested in midweek for the win against Bayer Leverkusen, including former St Etienne captain Blaise Matuidi.
St Etienne have developed a reputation as a bogey team for the French capital side but not on this occasion.
Ibrahimovic had PSG deservedly in front in the 14th minute, the Swedish striker rolling the ball in although St Etienne rounded on the referee claiming Matuidi had been offside.
The St Etienne goal continued to be the centre of attention as the hosts dominated, with Ibrahimovic doubling up four minutes from the break, prodding home Edinson Cavani's cross from the left having started the sweet move.
St Etienne emerged revitalised after the interval, Benjamin Corgnet thumping the ball into the side netting after Yohan Mollo's effort was blocked, then substitute Melvut Erding forcing PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu into producing a deft save.
PSG, who lost Yohan Cabaye to injury, the former Newcastle midfielder replaced by Marco Verrati, eventually managed to reassert themselves to hold out for the win and move closer to sealing the championship.
Earlier Monaco saw off Lyon in a contentious game marked by a series of dubious calls from the referee who later conceded all Monaco's goals resulted from off-side situations.
For Lyon this result ended a five-match unbeaten run in the league and the former multiple French champions remain in fifth place.
Lyon, for the third match in a row, conceded a goal in the opening 10 minutes, this time Valere Garmain inflicting the damage after four minutes.
This was the first of referee Freddy Fautrel's mistakes as Garmain was set up by Dimitar Berbatov's back pass, with the Bulgarian striker clearly offside.
James Rodriguez doubled up for Monaco who once again was sent on his way by Berbatov in an off-side position after a cross from the right from Mounir Obbadi.
A dozen minutes after the restart Berbatov, offside when he picked up a cross, scored from close range.
Lyon had pulled one back after the half hour when Miguel Lopes on the right flank found Jimmy Briand, who gave Lyon hope of salvaging a point with 12 minutes left on the clock with his second.
Fautrel held his hands up to a bad day at the office, declaring: "We (he and his assistants) recognise mistakes were made by the refereeing team - three goals were off-side.
"I've got other bad memories of course but tonight is a very bad memory for me and my colleagues."
Lyon coach Remi Garde said: "I'm disappointed that the players weren't rewarded for their enthusiasm and solidarity and courage.
"I'm not going to talk about the referee as I'd risk being banned."
Ranieri commented: "As for the refereeing I think it was very hard today for us and for Lyon. But when a team scores three goals away from home it deserves to win."
Montpellier held Bordeaux to a 1-1 draw in Sunday's other game.