Paris: Zlatan Ibrahimovic put in another match-winning performance on Saturday, scoring twice and setting up two more goals as Paris St Germain beat Troyes 4-0 to claim top spot in Ligue 1.
Ibrahimovic, back from a two-game suspension, created goals for Maxwell and Blaise Matuidi either side of halftime before rounding off the scoring in the 70th and 89th minutes.
PSG, who had not won for three league matches, have 26 points from 14 games and lead second-placed St Etienne, who lost 1-0 at Valenciennes on Friday, by a point after reaching the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.
Third-placed Olympique Lyon, level on 25 points with St Etienne, will regain top spot if they win at Toulouse on Sunday while fourth-placed Girondins Bordeaux, a point further back, visit Montpellier and also have their eye on first place.
Lyon will be without striker Lisandro Lopez who has been ruled out with a calf injury, the seven-times French champions said on Saturday.
PSG struggled at times against second-bottom Troyes, with Ibrahimovic’s return making all the difference.
“It takes more than two defeats to put pressure on me. We’re here to win. It was important to send a message,” Ibrahimovic told reporters.
“This week, the team had a good reaction. We scored six goals, did not concede,” said coach Carlo Ancelotti, also referring to PSG’s 2-0 win at Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League.
The former AC Milan and Barcelona striker slalomed past two defenders into the box in the 17th minute, with Maxwell latching on to his deflected cross to make it 1-0.
Ezequiel Lavezzi came close to scoring on the half hour, but Yohann Thuram-Ulien pulled off a fine save to parry the Argentine’s header away.
Troyes were then denied what looked like a penalty, which would have been their only real chance of the game, when Jean-Christophe Bahebeck was brought down by Marco Verratti.
Nene replaced Javier Pastore at halftime, after another ineffective performance by the Argentine playmaker.
Shortly after the hour, France midfielder Matuidi collected a through ball from Ibrahimovic and shot past Thuram-Ulien from close range.
With 20 minutes to go, Ibrahimovic scored a carbon copy of Matuidi’s goal from Nene’s pass.
The towering Swede then grabbed his 12th goal from 11 league appearances, latching on to a Lavezzi cross from the right with one minute of the game remaining.
Stade Rennes, who beat PSG at the Parc des Princes with nine men last weekend, slumped to a 1-0 home defeat against Evian Thonon Gaillard and remain seventh on 22 points.
Elsewhere, Nancy’s winless streak stretched to 14 games in all competitions after an Adrian Mutu penalty gave AC Ajaccio a 1-1 comeback draw at Marcel Picot.
Nancy stay bottom on seven points, one point behind Troyes.