Mauro Icardi broke a long scoring drought by netting both goals in Paris Saint-Germain’s comfortable 2-0 Ligue 1 win at Reims on Sunday night.
Earlier, Monaco hung on desperately to beat Strasbourg 3-2 after having two players sent off and Lille moved into second place a more straightforward 2-0 win over Nantes.
PSG, who opened the league season with two losses, won 2-0 for a third straight league game and are now seventh, four points behind leaders Rennes
“It’s important for a striker to score goals,” said Icardi after making the scoresheet for the first time since February.
“Today we lacked the efficiency to kill the match earlier, but we are happy with the result.”
For the first time since the French Cup final on July 24, PSG started their all their ‘Fantastic Four’, of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Angel di Maria and Icardi.
The quartet have been kept apart by positive Covid-19 tests, an injury to Mbappe, a suspension to Neymar and coach Thomas Tuchel’s decision to drop Icardi to the bench for the Champions League semi-final and final.
Even so PSG excercised their option to turn Icardi’s loan from Inter Milan into a permanent deal and the Argentine took over the number nine shirt from the departed Edinson Cavani.
Icardi stayed cool after nine minutes when Mbappe’s pass was a little behind him, defying his long dry spell by controlling the ball neatly with his heel and then driving a low shot inside the far post.
PSG dominated but failed to convert their chances.
Reims, who went to extra time on Thursday as they were eliminated from the Europa League on penalties by Hungarians Fehervar, almost levelled when substitute Boulaye Dia hit the post in the 61st minute.
But seconds later Icardi struck to seal the points. After a neat move, Mbappe rolled a pass to the unmarked forward, who tapped the ball in.
– ‘Heroic’ Monaco –
Monaco coach Niko Kovac described his side as “heroic” as they resisted a comeback from battling Strasbourg despite the dismissals of Aurelien Tchouameni and Axel Disasi at the Stade Louis II.
Wissam Ben Yedder put Monaco ahead with a ninth-minute strike before Ruben Aguilar made it 2-0 late in first-half stoppage time.
Mehdi Chahiri pulled Strasbourg back into contention just after the break before Ben Yedder struck again on 47 minutes.
But the Monaco sendings-off put Strasbourg on the front foot.
Disasi was dismissed for bringing down Ludovic Ajorque, who scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-2, setting up a breathless last 20 minutes.
“My players were heroic,” Kovac said. “When we were down to nine and the young players came on they showed a lot of character.”
Seeking to stay in touch with Rennes, who beat Saint Etienne 3-0 away on Saturday, Lille went ahead through a Nicolas Pallois own goal before Turkish international Burak Yilmaz wrapped up the three points with an 87th minute spot kick.
Montpellier wasted the chance to go second when they drew 2-2 at Dijon.
Patrick Vieira’s Nice side showed they are struggling for form as they were held to a goalless draw at Bordeaux despite hitting the woodwork three times. The southern side have seven points from five games.
Lyon continued their poor start to the season with a 1-1 draw at newly-promoted Lorient that extended their winless run to four games.
Lens, who came up with Lorient, maintained their positive start to life in the top flight with a 1-1 draw at Nimes that keeps them at the top end of the table.