PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain striker Ezequiel Lavezzi scored one of the best goals of the season so far in a 1-0 win over Rennes that lifted the defending champions within one point of French league leader Lyon Friday.
Lavezzi's goal was the only highlight of a close battle with few chances, as PSG had just two shots on target.
The Argentina forward finished off a superb collective move in the 29th minute with a left-foot shot from close range for his first league goal in more than two months.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Javier Patore and Adrien Rabiot were all involved in the build-up with a succession of quick passes that opened the Rennes defense, before Pastore set Lavezzi up with a fine touch.
PSG's fifth consecutive win in all competitions provisionally lifted the club to second place in the standings, three points above Marseille, which hosts Evian Saturday. Lyon travels to in-form Monaco on Sunday.
"We had up and downs tonight and we did not play well consistently," admitted defender David Luiz, whose partnership with Thiago Silva in the heart of the Parisian defense was one of the rare positives for PSG.
Rennes created two good chances either side of the interval, but goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu was decisive on both occasions. He first denied Abdoulaye Doucoure's fine shot from the edge of the box from Pastore's miscued back pass in the 34th minute. Substitute Christian Bruls then could not make the most of some sloppy defending when he fired an angled shot that forced Sirigu to another good save with his fists in the 75th.
Lavezzi has been lacking impact this season as his team failed to produce sparkling football and his goal was only his third this term. Lavezzi was banned for three matches by coach Laurent Blanc this month for missing a training camp during the Christmas break alongside Edinson Cavani. The Uruguay striker, who joined PSG for 64 million euros ($77 million) was whistled off the pitch when replaced by Lucas 20 minutes from time, seconds after failing to extend PSG's lead from Pastore's powerful but mishit shot in the box.
"I've heard some whistles, but I've also heard some fans chanting his name," Blanc said. "I told him he was coming off because his overall performance was not good enough, not because he missed a chance."
All content copyright ©2015 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.