Substitutes Lucas Moura and Blaise Matuidi combined to score the late winner as Paris Saint-Germain moved within touching distance of retaining their Ligue 1 title with a 1-0 win over visiting Evian on Wednesday at the Parc des Princes.
After spurning several chances, PSG found the winner in the 89th minute through Matuidi, who poked home from Moura's angled pass on the left.
With victory, Laurent Blanc's side moved 10 points clear of second-placed Monaco with four matches left, meaning PSG need only one more win to claim a second consecutive league crown.
The Parisiens will have their chance on Sunday at Sochaux, a team they defeated 5-0 at home in December.
As reported by @OptaJean, PSG's 25th league win of the season equals their best record in the top flight, a mark first set last season.
Evian are in 16th place, five points above the relegation places.
25 - Paris SG have won their 25th league game this season, equalling their best tally in the top-flight (25 in 2012/13). History.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) April 23, 2014
Despite the difference in the two teams' league positions, Evian carried the greater threat in the early exchanges. The visitors provided an early scare with Daniel Wass hit the woodwork with a fifth-minute free-kick.
PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu then saved twice, first from Nicolas Benezet's low shot in the seventh minute and then from Wass' glancing header three minutes later.
PSG began to dominate possession as the half wore on but largely failed to create chances. The hosts carved out a good opportunity in the 22nd minute, when Marco Verratti slipped a pass to Ezequiel Lavezzi on right. Lavezzi shot low, but Evian goalkeeper Jesper Hansen came off his line quickly and saved with his foot.
Edinson Cavani hit a free-kick into the wall in the 44th minute, and Yohan Cabaye missed the target with a shot from distance just before half-time.
PSG had their best chance yet in the 57th minute after Javier Pastore freed Adrien Rabiot on the left side of Evian's box with a through ball. Rabiot ran on to the pass and crossed into the middle for Lavezzi, who redirected the ball wide of the far post.
It was Rabiot's final involvement, with the 19-year-old French midfielder making way for Moura in the 58th minute.
PSG had another chance two minutes later via Lavezzi's finely curled free-kick from the left. Thiago Silva positioned himself well for a header but mistimed his leap, allowing the ball to bounce away to safety.
Evian went down to 10 men in the 61st minute when Kassim Abdallah was sent off following a second booking for a two-footed lunge on Lucas Digne.
PSG turned up the pressure after the dismissal. Cavani flicked a header off target in the 66th minute, moments before Lavezzi forced a save from Hansen with a dipping shot. Digne then shot high into the side netting in the 70th minute, and Pastore blasted off target three minutes later.
The hosts had another big chance in the 81st minute after Lavezzi won possession on the left and crossed into the middle. After bouncing around momentarily in Evian's box, the ball fell to an unmarked Matuidi, who curled his shot well off target.
Just when it looked like it wasn't going to be PSG's night, Matuidi popped up with the winner with a minute left. Lucas set up the goal, freeing Matuidi with a fine angled pass on the left. Nearing the byline, Matuidi poked his first touch through Hansen's legs to bring PSG to the brink of another league title.
|Gregory Van der Wiel||6.4||7.2|
|Lucas Moura (for Rabiot, 58')||N/A||6.7|
|Blaise Matuidi (for Verratti, 71')||N/A||7.2|
|Jeremy Menez (for Pastore, 80')||N/A||6.2|
Ratings via WhoScored.com
PSG manager Laurent Blanc hailed the victory as "three crucial points" and said his side improved in the second half after playing poorly before half-time. Speaking to PSG.fr, Blanc said:
They are three crucial points in the race for the title. It wasn't a great game, we were even pretty poor in the first half. We didn't start the game with the right attitude. We were better in the second half, we created chances and we scored late on thanks to Blaise. He never gives up, he's a player that believes right to the very end. It's not just a coincidence that he scored. We need to show a different attitude and approach if we want to win the league against Sochaux on Sunday
Lucas Moura, who assisted the winning goal, said the match was "difficult" and looked ahead to having a chance to clinch the league title. Speaking to PSG.fr, Moura said:
It was a very difficult match, we didn't play very well, but the important thing is the three points. We still need three more points to be crowned champions and we hope to get them on Sunday. I am very happy to have provided Blaise with the assist. This team win is a real pleasure.
PSG resume their title defence at Sochaux on Sunday.
Evian host St. Etienne on Saturday.