Marco Verratti, Edinson Cavani and Gregory van der Wiel scored as Paris Saint-Germain beat Metz 3-1 in Ligue 1 on Tuesday.
Paris Saint-Germain claimed pole position in the Ligue 1 title race after a 3-1 win over Metz on Tuesday sent the club three points clear at the top of the table.
The Parisians – aiming for their third successive French crown – started the day level with Lyon, but PSG's game in hand was always thought to be crucial and so it proved against a Metz side which now appears doomed in its fight for top-flight survival.
Goals from Marco Verratti and Edinson Cavani before the break put Laurent Blanc's side in control. Modibo Maiga's 53rd-minute header gave Metz a lifeline, but the home side, which ends the season with clashes against Nantes, Guingamp, Montpellier and Reims, responded through Gregory van der Wiel to put the pressure back on Lyon.
Talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return from suspension against Nantes on Sunday in a further boost for a PSG side well-placed for another title success.
Ezequiel Lavezzi's darting run provided the flicker of encouragement the home side needed after 15 minutes.
Lavezzi, who surged at the Metz defense and beat multiple players, saw his pass turned over by Blaise Matuidi, but the move lifted PSG – missing injured pair Salvatore Sirigu and Serge Aurier – which took the lead seven minutes later through Verratti.
Javier Pastore, who starred and contributed all three assists, was given too much time on the ball and played Verratti in with a simple pass, allowing the Italy international to take a touch before slotting into the bottom-left corner from just inside the penalty area.
Cavani could have doubled the lead 10 minutes before the break, but could not get the ball out from under his feet, although the disappointment did not last long. The Uruguay star brought the Parc des Princes crowd to their feet in the 42nd minute after winning the ball in midfield, finding Pastore and continuing his run forward.
Pastore returned the pass and Cavani did not have to break stride, bursting through Metz's defense with pace and power before dinking over goalkeeper Anthony Mfa Mezui.
Bouna Sarr thrashed over for Metz after the restart and Albert Cartier's men, playing with the freedom that trailing by two goals often brings, silenced the home crowd when Maiga netted.
Sarr did most of the work, storming down the right after beating David Luiz and producing a pinpoint cross that Maiga, free of Thiago Silva, simply nodded in off the left-hand post.
Cavani could have restored the two-goal advantage but fired straight at Mfa Mezui from an angle, while at the other end, Florent Malouda should have done better on a counterattack, with his tame effort easily saved by backup PSG goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez.
Van der Wiel then made sure of the three points with 13 minutes left, when, after bursting down the right, he saw his low and hard shot hit Mfa Mezui – who should have done better – and sneak in.