Paris (AFP) – New boy Julian Draxler produced a brilliant first-time finish to give Paris Saint Germain a 1-0 win at Rennes on his Ligue 1 debut for the champions on Saturday.
The victory lifts PSG level second with Monaco on 42 points, two behind table-toppers Nice, who host lowly Metz Sunday, while the Monegasques face a tough trip along the coast to Marseille.
The 2014 World Cup winner Draxler, 23, and freshly arrived on a 40 million euros ($42 million) transfer from Wolfsburg, looked at home in his PSG shirt from the kick off.
And when the goal came it was the third time he and Italian midfielder Marco Verratti had teamed up to pressure the goal as Unai Emery’s team, who face Nantes next week, start to gel.
After a pin-point cross-field pass from Verratti on 40 minutes, Draxler unleashed a reflex, curling shot from the corner of the area which curled around the defence and the clutching grasp of a full-stretch Benoit Costil and just inside the post.
Draxler had already dummied a defender and shot at goal from a long Verratti pass early on but his shot had been too close to Costil.
Then on the half-hour Verratti was booked for a dive in the area when a perfect Draxler through ball forced the Rennes ‘keeper into a rash challenge, which may have warranted a spot-kick had the Italian actually waited for contact before hitting the turf.
PSG would have a second player booked for diving in the area in the second half with Thiago Motta also going into referee Benoit Bastien’s book.
Coach Christian Gourcuff’s seventh placed Rennes could not be accused of rolling over for the champions, as they attacked Paris throughout with their trademark slick passing game.
They were missing forward Paul-George Ntep, who has gone to Wolfsburg as they try to fill the gap left by Draxler.
Benjamin Andre forced a late save out of PSG stopper Kevin Trapp on 80 minutes and Adrien Rabiot, on as a substitute for Draxler on 73, saw a flash shot saved at the other end.
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