The midfielder converted from a first-half corner, but les Parisiens had to see off a good deal of home pressure before securing the narrow successParis Saint-Germain will spend Christmas as the top of Ligue 1, having been crowned ‘Autumn Champions’ thanks to a 1-0 success over Saint-Etienne.
A scrappy goal from Mathieu Bodmer midway through the first half settled the match, and les Parisiens had Salvatore Sirigu to thank for preserving their lead as he shut out the in-form home side.
Showing the kind of confidence that comes from winning four games from six, Saint-Etienne made a strong start to the match and frequently punched holes in the rearguard of the visiting side, though in the final third they were unable to produce a truly incisive moment.
Perhaps the best moment that summed up the hosts early pressure was an effort from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that sailed into the stand behind PSG’s goal after a well-fashioned attack.
Sirigu was not completely unemployed, as he had to act strongly to produce a save from Max Gradel, who was the recipient of a dangerous centre from Bakary Sako.
Les Parisiens, meanwhile, relied more on their individual skills to create openings, yet their chances would be the better of the first half. Kevin Gameiro was only denied a goal after a deft pass from Javier Pastore by a magnificent saving challenge from Sylvain Marchal, while the centre-back would deny the Argentine after he had rounded Stephane Ruffier.
With 32 minutes gone, the home side fell behind. A corner kick was brilliantly delivered by Nene into the near-post area, and Mathieu Bodmer’s header found the net via the post and then the arm of the home goalkeeper.
After the interval, Saint-Etienne continued to attack with some real intent; left-back Faouzi Ghoulam providing a particular danger down his channel. Again, however, the home team would fail to ever really exert the visiting goalkeeper.
PSG were a threat on the counter, meanwhile. Pastore and Gameiro showed real signs of life in attack, with a superb surge from the latter concluding with a clipped shot from a difficult angle coming off the post.
On 65 minutes, the hosts missed a glaring chance. An angled centre from Sako should have been converted by Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but his header flew away from goal. On the follow up, Aubameyang was denied by the legs of Sirigu.
The Italy international came to his side’s aid soon afterwards, bravely diving at the feet of the on-loan AC Milan striker, who had broken through on goal.
On a rare foray forward, the visitors nearly tied up the points with a fine solo effort from Jeremy Menez and then a one-on-one chance for Gameiro that he saw saved, but ultimately Bodmer’s first-half effort was sufficient for Antoine Kombouare’s men to move three points clear at Le Championnat’s summit.