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The Toe Poke

PSG wins comfortably at Rennes

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 at Rennes to maintain its march to the French league title on Saturday and help eradicate memories of one of its lowest points of the season.

Jeremy Menez scored a stunning solo goal in the 56th minute as PSG re-established its seven-point lead in the standings.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealed the result in stoppage time as PSG recorded its first win at Rennes since 2002.

PSG maintained its lead over Marseille, which beat Bordeaux 1-0 on Friday.

"(The title) is closer than before, it's true, although the season isn't over," PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "It was an important victory because Marseille won. We worked well and had the energy we needed to control the match.

"We had a lot of problems in the last 20 minutes because Rennes upped the pressure, especially on the flanks. But what was important was to win this tricky match."

Rennes has won only one of its past 10 matches.

Ancelotti rested more than half of his team ahead of Wednesday's return leg at Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals.

Only four of the starting 11 which helped PSG to a 2-2 draw in the first leg were on the pitch at kickoff against Rennes.

Back in November, Ancelotti admitted his team was in crisis after it lost 2-1 at home to Rennes, which played most of the second half with nine men.

PSG almost got off to a poor start but goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu did well to turn Sadio Diallo's shot round his left post.

Ibrahimovic came close to giving PSG the lead in the 21st with a free kick from just outside the area which flew past the left upright.

The striker should have done better three minutes from halftime when he seemed certain to score after spinning to collect a through ball from Menez and racing into the area. However, his left-footed effort lacked power and was straight at Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil.

PSG finally scored 11 minutes after the break, as Clement Chantome found Menez, who beat almost the entire Rennes defense before firing past Costil.

PSG doubled its lead at the death. David Beckham appeared to be close to scoring his first Ligue 1 goal but Ibrahimovic made sure, heading in from practically on the goal line for his 26th league goal of the season.

At the other end of the table Nancy beat Troyes 1-0 in a relegation six-pointer.

Nancy gave itself hope of survival with its third successive win. Romain Grange struck the only goal, in the second half.

Troyes' situation looks increasingly more hopeless as it remains provisionally six points off safety. Nancy is just a point off both Reims and Evian which both play on Sunday.

Sochaux is two points off the drop zone after it drew 0-0 at home to Ajaccio, which is a further two points ahead.

Brest, the other team in the bottom three, was humiliated 4-0 at Bastia following another sterling performance from Florian Thauvin.

The young striker, who will play for Lille next season, scored his third double in a row for Bastia. It took Thauvin's tally to eight goals in four games including for France Under-20s.

Brest goalkeeper Joan Hartock was shown a straight red for the foul which set up the last goal.

Nice won 4-3 at Toulouse following a dramatic finale in which both teams were reduced to 10 men.

Nice was winning 3-2 when Toulouse goalkeeper Ali Ahamada was red-carded for a tackle on Mahamane Traore eight minutes from time.

Wissam Ben Yedder, who hadn't scored since November, netted his second of the game to draw Toulouse level in the final minute before Alexy Bosetti was sent off for Nice for a dangerous tackle on Cheikh M'Bengue.

However, Kevin Anin scored his first league goal in four years in the third minute of stoppage time.

Elsewhere, Montpellier beat Valenciennes 3-1.


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