Paris (AFP) – Edinson Cavani bagged his 35th goal of a spectacular season as Paris Saint Germain swept aside Marseille 5-1 on Sunday in “Le Classique” to move second in Ligue 1.
The reigning French champions are three points behind prolific league leaders Monaco and level with Nice, but go second thanks to a better goal difference in what has become a three-way tussle for the title.
A Stade Velodrome record 65,252 packed into the stands in the hopes of seeing a Marseille side buoyed by fresh investment and the return of Dimitri Payet derail their old rival’s title charge.
But the vociferous home fans were silenced after just six minutes when skipper Thiago Silva rose to powerfully nod the ball back across goal and fellow Brazilian defender Marquinhos headed home unchallenged.
That opened the floodgates and Blaise Matuidi, who scored the fifth and best goal of the evening, was jubilant afterwards.
“We knew they were going to try to squeeze us in the first 15-20 minutes, but we managed well,” the French international midfielder said.
“A great victory… It’s just sheer happiness. When I was a kid I dreamed of playing these games.
“I’m happy but we have to go on like this. There are other very good teams around us at the top and it’s a very nice looking title race.”
Marseille were never in the game but Payet, who forced his way out of West Ham in the winter transfer window for 30 million euros ($32m), had the home side’s first real chance when he flashed a long-distance strike just wide on the quarter hour.
A minute later however it was 2-0 when the Argentine attacking midfielder Javier Pastore — recalled after injury at the expense of Julian Draxler — cleverly dinked the ball through to Cavani, who poked in past the advancing Yohann Pele in the home goal to continue his deadly form.
It was the Uruguayan predator’s 35th goal in all competitions this term and 26th in the league.
Cavani might have had a second on 23 minutes as PSG dominated, but he miscued his scissor kick over with the goal gaping.
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The second half was more of the same and it was 3-0 on 50 minutes when another Brazilian, Lucas Moura, profited from poor defending to prod in from close range.
Matuidi claimed the assist but it was Pastore, back in boss Unai Emery’s starting XI and back to fitness, who provided a classy touch on the way.