Paris Saint-Germain, fresh from progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals, capped a profitable week with a 2-0 win over AS Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
The Ligue 1 leaders’ closest rivals, AS Monaco, had earlier cut the gap to five points after a controversial 3-2 win over Olympique Lyonnais in a game where the referee subsequently admitted to mistakes on all three of Monaco’s goals.
However, it ultimately made no difference in the standings, as PSG regained their eight-point cushion on Claudio Ranieri’s side courtesy of superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who put the game to bed with two first-half goals.
The latest step on what is becoming a relentless march to the French title extended PSG’s unbeaten league run to 13 and saw coach Laurent Blanc bring back several players rested for the Champions League win against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, including former Saint-Etienne captain Blaise Matuidi.
Les Verts have developed a reputation as a bogey team for the French capital side, but did not live up to that reputation on Sunday.
Ibrahimovic put PSG deservedly in front in the 14th minute, rolling the ball in, although Saint-Etienne rounded on the referee claiming that Matuidi had been offside.
The goal continued to be the center of attention as the hosts dominated, with Ibrahimovic doubling up four minutes from the break, prodding home Edinson Cavani’s cross after instigating the play.
Saint-Etienne emerged revitalized after the break, with Benjamin Corgnet thumping the ball into the side netting after Yohan Mollo’s effort was blocked and substitute Melvut Erding forcing PSG ’keeper Salvatore Sirigu into a deft save.
However, PSG eventually managed to reassert themselves to hold out for the win and move closer to sealing the championship.
Earlier, at their Stade de Gerland, Lyon ended a five-match unbeaten run in the league to stay in fifth place after Monaco scored three goals that referee Freddy Fautrel conceded afterward had all resulted from off-side situations.
It was the third straight match in which les Gones have conceded in the first 10 minutes, with Valere Garmain scoring in the fourth for the first of Fautrel’s mistakes since the striker was set up by a clearly offside Dimitar Berbatov.
James Rodriguez doubled up for Les Rouge et Blanc in a goal that was again set up by Berbatov from an off-side position after a Mounir Obbadi cross from the right.
A dozen minutes after the restart, Berbatov was yet again offside when he picked up a cross and scored from close range.
Lyon pulled one back after the half-hour when Miguel Lopes on the right flank found Jimmy Briand, who gave his team hope of salvaging a point with 12 minutes left with his second goal, but it was not to be for OL.
“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,” Lyon coach Remi Garde said.
After the game, Fautrel held his hands up, saying: “We [he and his assistants] recognize mistakes were made by the refereeing team — three goals were off-side.”
Ranieri acknowledged the errors, but said the result was fair.
“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,” the Monaco boss added.
In Sunday’s other game, Montpellier Herault drew Girondins de Bordeaux 1-1.