Ligue 1: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores twice to rally PSG past Nantes
PARIS (AP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as a poor Paris Saint-Germain rallied to beat Nantes 2-1 and moved provisionally to the top of the French league on Saturday.
Four days before its trip to Barcelona in the Champions League, PSG struggled to create opportunities against an organized Nantes, and relied on Ibrahimovic's class to come out on top.
Laurent Blanc's side improved after the interval but Nantes will feel a sense of injustice over a disallowed goal that would have put them into a 2-0 lead, and a refereeing decision that saw PSG midfielder Marco Verratti avoid a direct sending-off in the first half.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya put Nantes in front in the eighth minute with a superb 25-meter (yard) strike but the visitors were punished on a counterattack that Ibrahimovic concluded from close range in the 34th.
Ibrahimovic, who has missed a large chunk of the season with a heel injury, scored his eighth league goal with a free kick into the top corner in the 48th.
"I felt good out there. Match after match, I'm getting better. I'm not yet 100 percent but if I continue like this I'll get back to my best," Ibrahimovic said
PSG moved two points clear of Marseille, which can reclaim the top spot by beating Metz on Sunday.
Elsewhere, striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel fired Saint-Etienne to a 1-0 win over bottom side Bastia that lifted Les Verts to third overall, five points behind PSG. It was Saint-Etienne's third consecutive win in the space of a week.
Fourth-place Bordeaux stayed in the hunt for the Champions League places after Cheikh Diabate scored a brace and Wahbi Khazri bagged another goal in a 3-2 win over Lorient. Montpellier claimed its biggest victory this season with a 4-0 away thrashing of Rennes, and Nice won 3-2 at Caen.
As Bedoya silenced the PSG fans with his stunning shot, and the home side started regulars Maxwell, Gregory van der Wiel, David Luiz, Blaise Matuidi and Edinson Cavani on the bench, PSG looked powerless in the early stages.
Verratti was lucky to escape with a yellow card following his high tackle to stop Nantes midfielder Georges-Kevin Nkoudou's run in the 11th. Papy Mison Djilobodi then thought he doubled Nantes' lead with a volley at the far post from a free kick, but his goal was disallowed for offside.
"When there is a serious foul, it has to be a red card, otherwise the rules need to be clarified," Nantes president Waldemar Kita said. "And I can't understand why the goal was disallowed, there is no offside."
PSG remained dangerous on the break, and leveled at the end of a swift move ignited by Serge Aurier and concluded by Ibrahimovic, who coolly finished Lucas' cross despite a challenge from bulky center-back Augusto Vizcarrondo.
PSG tried to build on the momentum with strong pressure yet could not add another one before the interval. But Ibrahimovic, who was rested on Wednesday for the 1-1 draw at Lille, needed just three minutes after coming back from the dressing room to put the French champions ahead. His powerful free kick from the same spot where Bedoya fired the opener took the same route straight into the top corner.
"He makes the difference," PSG defender Marquinhos said of Ibrahimovic.