Edinson Cavani made amends for his penalty miss with a late goal as Paris Saint-Germain beat Troyes 2-0 in Ligue 1 at Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
The league leaders were facing the prospect of two points dropped against a much-improved Troyes side after Cavani had a first-half penalty saved, but strike partner Neymar gave PSG the lead 17 minutes from time before the Uruguayan atoned for his spot-kick woe in the dying seconds.
Jean-Louis Garcia's Troyes went into the game having won two of their previous three in Ligue 1 and they could have been 1-0 up after 35 minutes when Stephane Darbion found the back of the net, but an offside flag had already been raised.
Cavani then won a penalty after having his shirt pulled, but his effrt was kept out by Mamadou Samassa and the visitors and there may be calls for future penalty-taking duties to fall to Neymar, who contested Cavani for the right to take them earlier in the season.
The hard-fought victory kept PSG 10 points clear of second-placed Marseille and extended their winning run to five league games, proving that even when the likes of second-half substitute Kylian Mbappe are out of form, Emery has ample talent at his disposal.
Garcia will take comfort from the way his side battled against the league's standout opposition and if they can maintain the same level of performance over the festive period they should expect to pull away from the relegation battle.
Cavani, looking to add to his tally of 16 league goals, squandered his first opportunity when he volleyed Javier Pastore's chipped free-kick high over the crossbar from 10 yards out.
PSG seemed to favour attacks down the right flank through Angel Di Maria, whose shot from the edge of the box bounced just wide to the left of Samassa's goal after 19 minutes.
Kevin Trapp had to make his first save of the match just before the half-hour mark, parrying Samuel Grandsir's shot away after the pacy winger burst into the penalty area.
Grandsir had the ball in the net five minutes later, only to be ruled out by an offside flag despite replays suggesting the goal should have stood.
Just before half-time, Cavani took a theatrical fall in the penalty area when he had his shirt tugged and a foul was given, but the Uruguayan then saw his spot-kick saved by Samassa, diving to his right.
Emery's men pressed hard from the outset of the second half but shots from Marco Verratti and Thomas Meunier were blocked before Neymar blazed high and wide from 25 yards.
Grandsir was judged to have fouled Trapp as the Troyes playmaker caused the goalkeeper to fumble a high ball, but Samassa had no such problems at the other end when he made a good save from Giovani Lo Celso's thunderous low drive from 20 yards.
Emery sent on Mbappe for Di Maria with just over 20 minutes left and his introduction had an invigorating effect as Neymar collected the ball moments later and sauntered forward before powering a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
Troyes did not give up and substitute Suk Hyun-jun managed a shot on target with seven minutes left to play, but Trapp held firm and Cavani made sure he took a share of the headlines when he rifled the ball into the top of the net from 10 yards out with seconds to spare.
Key Opta facts:
- Paris Saint-Germain are unbeaten in their last 12 encounters with Troyes in Ligue 1 (W10, D2), winning the last six.
- PSG have lost only one of their last 35 Ligue 1 games (W29 D5).
- Neymar has been involved in 15 goals in his first 11 starts with Paris in Ligue 1 (nine goals, six assists), three more than in his first 11 with Barcelona in Liga (12 – four goals, eight assists).