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February 07, 2016

PARIS (AP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the first goal and set up the winner for Angel di Maria as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-1 away at bitter rival Marseille on Sunday, extending its record unbeaten league run to 34 matches and maintaining its massive 24-point lead.

Ibrahimovic pounced in the second minute with his 21st league goal of the season, and created Di Maria's goal in the 71st after winger Remy Cabella equalized midway through the first half.

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But PSG's winning goal was largely down to an error from Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.

France's No. 2 'keeper hesitated before coming off his line to close down Ibrahimovic on the right touchline. Ibrahimovic moved the ball away from him and, with Mandanda backtracking, picked out Di Maria just inside the area. Di Maria cut inside a defender and placed the ball into the bottom right corner, with Mandanda still out of position.

In a hostile atmosphere inside Stade Velodrome, Di Maria appeared to goad the home fans with a hand gesture after his goal, as did midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc conceded his side was perhaps fortunate to win.

"Marseille caused us a lot of problems," he said. "They shook us up and we made too many technical mistakes. We're losing the ball too quickly at the moment and lack patience."

But PSG can always count on Ibrahimovic and has not lost in the league dating back to March 15.

"No team is unbeatable," captain Thiago Silva said. "But if we carry on like this, I think we can continue until the end without losing."

Due to the enmity between the opposing fans, there were no PSG fans present following police orders earlier in the week. As PSG's team bus approached the stadium, some Marseille fans threw projectiles, and objects were also thrown toward Di Maria as he prepared to take a second-half corner.

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Marseille made the worst possible start.

Poor defending allowed left back Maxwell to easily get behind the defense and cross to the back post, where Ibrahimovic tapped in his ninth goal in nine games against Marseille.

Marseille has not won at home in the league since Sept. 13 and sits in 10th spot, and it last beat PSG in 2011.

PSG should have made it 2-0 but Di Maria shot wide after being set up by Matuidi.

Cabella equalized in the 25th with a fine run and strike from the edge of the area. PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, who has made several high-profile errors this season, got a firm hand to the ball but let it squeeze in.

But any pass behind Marseille's defense caused panic and Brazilian winger Lucas almost put PSG back in front, while Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi saw his header cleared off the line by center half Silva in an entertaining half.

Marseille dominated the opening 15 minutes of the second period, but winger Georges-Kevin NKoudou was wasteful when choosing to shoot tamely from the edge of the area, with Batshuayi free to his right.

PSG almost punished that on the hour mark, only for Ibrahimovic to side-foot over from close range from Matuidi's bouncing cross.

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Marseille striker Steven Fletcher came on for the last 10 minutes and was well placed in the 89th, but Nkoudou's over-hit pass flew past him.

"We've lost again at home and it's frustrating," Cabella said. "We didn't take our chances."

Earlier Sunday, Saint-Etienne romped to a 4-1 win at Bordeaux to move level on points with third-place Nice.

Midfielder Vincent Pajot and new signing Oussama Tannane scored inside the first seven minutes and strikers Alexander Soderlund and Nolan Roux netted in the second half.

Nice leads Saint-Etienne on goal difference, six points behind Monaco.

Also, striker Eder scored his first goal for Lille, but Ousmane Dembele's 89th-minute penalty earned Rennes a 1-1 draw.

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