Paris Saint Germain survived a late scare to move six points clear of rivals Lyon at the top of the Ligue 1 table after a 3-1 victory over Bastia in the Parc des Princes.
The home side dominated the opening half and squandered several glorious opportunities before Jeremy Menez broke the deadlock 11 minutes into the second half with his second goal of the season.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic then scored a hotly-debated penalty to double the lead and they looked in total command before Wahabi Khazri's goal threatened an unlikely Bastia comeback with only minutes remaining.
Bastia wasted two good chances to equalise before Ezquiel Lavezzi pounced to make the game safe and secure PSG’s eleventh victory in 12 games.
With midfielder Thiago Motta out due to suspension and Thiago Silva sidelined, Coach Carlo Ancelotti also decided to rest the influential Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mamadou Sakho ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Valencia with deadline day signing David Beckham remaining in London.
Despite the notable absentees, the home side completely dominated possession in the opening half and had several glorious opportunities to go ahead. Menez took advantage of a dangerous back pass to win an early corner and from the resultant play, Javier Pastore found Menez who shot just wide of Mickael Landreau’s post.
Maxwell was influential in PSG’s next big moment, his excellent cross finding Pastore unmarked at the back post only for the midfielder to slice his volley wide when he really ought to have forced Landreau into action.
Menez was increasingly looking like the home side’s most dangerous outlet with his pace and trickery, Sylvain Marchal doing well to block his goalbound effort with a last ditch tackle.
Defending deep and content to hit PSG on the break, Bastia’s chances were few and far between but they had the chance to shock the home crowd 20 minutes in.
A great ball from Jerome Rother put Florian Thauvin through on goal on the left side of the box only for the midfielder to blast over from a tight angle.
Straight up the other end, PSG should have gone ahead. Kevin Gameiro’s excellent lay off dropped to Lucas Moura on the half volley but he snatched at the chance, smashing over the bar.
If that miss was hard for the home crowd to take, worse was to follow five minutes later. Another penetrating run from Menez down the right ended in a cross come shot that fell perfectly for Gameiro only yards out but with an open goal gaping, he somehow contrived to hit the post.
PSG began the second half with the same high tempo they started the first, Maxwell bursting into the box and sending over a cross that Marchal was grateful to deflect just wide of his own net.
The home side were inching closer to breaking the deadlock by the minute and Bastia again had Landreau to thank for keeping them in the game, the keeper getting down excellently to his left to smuggle Gameiro’s goal-bound flick behind from Gregory Van der Wiel’s cross.
Landreau barely had time to reflect upon his save before he was rueing a goalkeeping error that finally put PSG ahead, Menez finishing a surging run on goal by rifling the ball under his body.
Bouyed by breaking through, PSG pressed for a second and they had their chance under controversial circumstances. Moura ghosted past Julien Palmeiri and although the defender clearly brought him down outside the box, referee Olivier Thual pointed to the spot.
Ibrahimovic, not long into his stint on the pitch as a substitute, rifled home for his 21st goal in 21 league games but remarkably only his fifth at the Parc des Princes.
Another fine save from Landreau denied Menez to keep his side in the game and from nowhere, Bastia were back in the hunt. Khazri, on as a substitute for Sambou Yatabaré, was brought down by Marco Verratti some 3o yards out.
Having been shown the yellow card for reacting angrily to the challenge, the substitute quickly got his head back into the right place and caught Salvatore Sirigu napping with a quick free kick that sailed over the keeper’s head and into the roof of the net. It was the first time the PSG keeper had conceded in over 900 minutes of play.
PSG were suddenly as sixes and sevens and a clearly rattled Sirigu then nearly conceded from the restart, rushing rashly out of his box and losing out to Khazri whose goalbound shot was gratefully cleared by the home defence.
Another chance followed, Anthony Modeste failing to capitalise on a great run and cross by Thauvin by planting his header over the bar. But Bastia’s brave efforts to get back on terms cost them a third and PSG Lavezzi sealed the points by tapping in Landreau’s palmed save from Menezzi’s cross.
PSG now head into Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Valencia in Spain high on confidence with several big name players, including a certain David Beckham, available for selection.