Football: Edinson Cavani sends PSG to the top of Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani celebrates his goal during the match against Montpellier.
Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani celebrates his goal during the match against Montpellier.PHOTO: AFP

Paris (AFP) - A goal apiece from Edinson Cavani and Angel di Maria gave Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) a 2-0 win over Montpellier to send the champions top of Ligue 1 for the first time this season on Saturday.

PSG have 80 points from 34 games to top Ligue 1 provisionally, while second-placed Monaco, the Champions League semi-finalists, have 77 points from 32 ahead of a challenging trip to Lyon on Sunday.

In homage to the Parisian policeman murdered on the Champs Elysees in a terror attack on Thursday, two policemen symbolically took the kick off, while the players all wore black armbands in mourning.

Given the reverse fixture was a resounding 3-0 win for Montpellier, star-studded PSG needed to be on their guard and occasionally rode their luck.

But Unai Emery's charges have now steamrollered to eight-straight wins since their humiliating Champions League meltdown in Barcelona.

"We're in a good place, Monaco too, they're really good," said Emery after the game. "We must win our last (four) matches and see if they slip up," he added.

Former PSG assistant coach and Montepellier manager Jean-Louis Gasset enjoyed his first return to some extent.

"We had them on the back foot for a while," he said. "I'm fully behind them for the title, but it won't be easy with Monaco needing to slip up twice," he said in reference not only to the the game in hand Monaco have, but also their vastly superior goal difference.

Cavani, known as 'El Matador' for his killer instinct in front of goal, converted Blaise Matuidi's neat cross after leaving his marker with the drop of a shoulder, and dummying the Montpellier goalkeeper from around the penalty spot for his 31st league goal of the campaign.

That was just before the half hour, and Cavani was again involved in setting up Di Maria's decider on 48 minutes.

The Uruguayan international dispossessed a defender and back heeled the ball to the Argentinian winger, giving him a distant sight on goal before he duly curled his shot into the top corner for a sumptuous strike.

Both sides could have scored more in an open game that featured astonishingly few fouls.

"This was a good game for football with two teams who wanted to attack," Emery said.

Having eliminated Borussia Dortmund from their midweek Champions League clash, Monaco return to domestic duty bidding to win their first French league title since 2000 with a tricky visit to Europa League semi-finalist Lyon on Sunday.

On track for third spot are early-season pacesetters Nice, who travel to Toulouse early on Sunday.