Zlatan Ibrahimovic's hat trick sees PSG over Nice

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (10) accounted for all of Paris Saint-Germain's offense against Nice.
Michel Euler/AP

PARIS (AP) -- Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick as Paris Saint-Germain beat Nice 3-1 to move four points clear atop the French league on Saturday.

Ibrahimovic converted a cross from Gregory Van der Wiel in the 39th minute before scoring from the penalty spot in the 57th.

Nice defender Nemanja Pejcinovic pulled one back from close range in the 70th but Ibrahimovic put the result beyond doubt with a header in the 75th for his eighth league goal.

''We're lucky to have players who score a lot of goals,'' PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. ''You can have as much ball possession as you want, but it's useless if you're not efficient in front of goal.''

PSG is the only French club still undefeated this season while Nice suffered a third straight loss to drop to 12th place.

''We're a bit frustrated after this match because we could have done better with a bit more focus and application,'' Nice midfielder Didier Digard said. ''Paris takes advantage of every weakness, that's the difference between the big teams and the small ones.''

Also, it was: Guingamp 0, Lille 0; Lorient 0, Reims 0; Bastia 1, Rennes 0; Toulouse 1, Ajaccio 1; and Valenciennes 1, Montpellier 1.

On Friday, Monaco drew 1-1 with Evian.

Nice nearly caught PSG off guard after three minutes. However, PSG centerback Thiago Silva rushed back to prevent Nice striker Dario Cvitanich from converting from four yards a low cross from Christian Bruls.

Nice played a high defensive line to stymie PSG's potent attack. The tactic worked to a certain extent as Edinson Cavani's goal in the 24th and Ibrahimovic's goal in the 28th were both disallowed for offside.

PSG quickly spotted cracks in the Nice defense. Ibrahimovic beat the offside trap in the 20th to chase a long ball from Thiago Motta but fired over the bar from 12 yards.

Ibrahimovic exploited another lapse of concentration from the visitors in the 30th but Nice goalkeeper Luca Veronese came off his line to deny the PSG center forward. Veronese was making his French league debut because goalkeepers David Ospina and Mouez Hassen were both injured.

Ibrahimovic made Nice pay for its defensive frailties by ghosting past fullback Gregoire Puel to flick home Van der Wiel's offering. He came close to doubling the lead on the stroke of halftime, but headed wide Javier Pastore's free kick.

The Sweden striker dropped back in the 56th to send a ball over the top for Cavani, who was brought down by Veronese. Ibrahimovic converted the subsequent penalty by sending the keeper the wrong way.

PSG seemed in control but Nice capitalized on the hosts' complacency. A low cross from Bruls eluded the PSG defense and Pejcinovic at the far post tapped home.

However, Ibrahimovic restored PSG's two-goal lead by outjumping the defense to head in a cross from Lucas Moura. The Brazilian midfielder, who replaced Pastore in the 74th, had a good impact on the right flank. His cross in the 86th took a deflection off Nice defender Timothee Kolodziejczak, forcing a wrongfooted Veronese to make a save with his left leg.

Lille kept an eighth straight clean sheet in the league to remain second, one point clear of Monaco.

The 2011 champion will have regrets as Lille forward Salomon Kalou missed the target from close range with a header on the stroke of halftime and Guingamp was down to 10 men in the 79th when Lionel Mathis picked up a second yellow card.

''When you can't win a match, you mustn't lose it,'' Lille coach Rene Girard said. ''I'm satisfied with this point because it was tough to do better tonight.''

In Bastia, striker Gianni Bruno collected a long ball from Ryad Boudebouz to beat Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil in the eighth minute. The Corsican club is still undefeated at home this season and moved into the middle of the table.

Ajaccio ended a five-match losing streak in all competitions in its first match since Italian coach Fabrizio Ravanelli was dismissed a week ago.

On Sunday, Saint-Etienne hosts Lyon, Nantes visits Bordeaux and Marseille faces Sochaux.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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