Angel Di Maria continued his brilliant run of goal-scoring form to help Paris Saint-Germain to a 2-0 Ligue 1 defeat of Troyes, despite the revered attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all missing out.
PSG were far from their vibrant best without the injured Neymar and Mbappe, and rested Cavani, but did enough to claim a routine win over a side that hardly threatened, with second-half goals from Di Maria and Christopher Nkunku proving decisive.
Given the fact PSG were without the sources of 53 of their Ligue 1 goals this season, it was hardly surprising to see them struggle as an attacking force in the first half, with Troyes goalkeeper Erwin Zelazny mostly kept busy by long-range attempts.
But a fine Di Maria effort early in the second half, his seventh goal in six games across all competitions, ended Troyes' dogged resistance.
The home side failed to offer much of a response, Alphonse Areola in the PSG goal enjoying a leisurely outing.
And PSG ultimately cruised to all three points thanks to Nkunku's late effort, taking them into Tuesday's crunch Champions League tie at home to Real Madrid in winning form.
77' GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL!!!!! Great pass from @DaniAlvesD2 for @c_nk97, who opens his account for the season and doubles Paris' lead!!! #ESTACPSG pic.twitter.com/Mqsxsdyll3 — PSG English (@PSG_English) March 3, 2018
PSG established control early on and went close to the opener in the seventh minute, but Di Maria's effort was repelled by Zelazny after Julian Draxler had raced on to Giovani Lo Celso's through pass and teed up the former Manchester United man.
Aside from that opportunity, PSG's lack of Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe was telling during the early exchanges, as their replacements showed little sign of being on the same wavelength and clear-cut chances failed to flow.
The visitors only looked like troubling Troyes from distance, but did force Zelazny into a couple of saves, with Lo Celso and then Di Maria testing the goalkeeper.
PSG were a little more vibrant and fluid towards the end of the half. However, Zelazny continued to come out on top, keeping another long-range Lo Celso attempt at bay, before producing a fine reaction save to thwart Nkunku's overhead-kick.
Zelazny was eventually beaten just after the break – Di Maria racing on to Draxler's pass and lifting a clever chipped effort over the approaching goalkeeper.
Nkunku should have doubled their lead soon after, but he inexplicably shot wide of the right-hand post from about eight yards after a sensational run and pass from Draxler.
But the young attacker made amends for that miss 13 minutes from time, providing a neat finish from close range.
Things got worse for Troyes soon after, as Jean-Louis Garcia was sent to the stands for his protestations, but PSG – who introduced George Weah's 18-year-old son Timothy for a debut late on – were unable to add further gloss to the scoreline, Dani Alves seeing an injury-time strike ruled out for offside.
8312 - Timothy Weah is playing his first Ligue 1 game with Paris, 8312 days after George Weah’s - his father - last one with the club (v Le Havre in May 1995). Legacy. pic.twitter.com/p85jMdzfbD— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 3, 2018
Key Opta Stats:
- PSG have picked up 74 points after 28 Ligue 1 games this season, the best tally ever at this stage of a season (based on three points for a win).
- They have lost only two of their last 31 Ligue 1 matches (W26 D3), in December 2017 at Strasbourg (1-2) & in January 2018 at Lyon (1-2).
- Di Maria has scored 15 goals in his last 17 games in all competitions, as many as in his previous 47.