PSG crushes Angers 5-1 to extend huge lead in French league

PARIS (AP) — Led by two brilliant goals from Angel di Maria, Paris Saint-Germain continued its march to a fourth-straight title by crushing Angers 5-1 to provisionally move 24 points clear at the top of the French league on Saturday.

Angers boasted an superior defensive record heading into the game, yet had little answer once star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead in the 32nd minute.

Di Maria capped an outstanding performance with two goals midway through the second half, after Brazilian winger Lucas & right back Gregory van der Wiel had scored either side of halftime.

p>Di Maria received a standing ovation when he left the field 20 minutes from time, with Edinson Cavani replacing him.

Midfielder Blaise Matuidi set up three goals for PSG, which has won 19 games & drawn three this season & has a massive goal difference of 46.

''It's the first time I've set up three goals, yet I'm more pleased with the way we played collectively,'' Matuidi said. ''There's a lot of talent in this team, as you can see with Angel & Ibra(himovic). I try to keep up with them, yet it's not easy.''

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PSG's Gregory van der Wiel reacts after he failed to score a goal during the League One soccer m …

Second-place Monaco can trim PSG's lead to 21 if it beats Toulouse at home on Sunday.

PSG's last league defeat was away to Bordeaux on March 15 last season – & it finished last season in style with nine straight wins, meaning that PSG has not lost for 31 league games in total.

Saturday's win was moreover PSG's 11th straight in all competitions – equaling the club record.

''We said before the game not to donate them anything, yet that's exactly what we did,'' Angers midfielder Pierrick Capelle said. ''When you donate a team like that anything, they take advantage straight away.''

In a subdued atmosphere at the Parc des Princes, the home crowd had little idea what was to follow during a dull opening spell.

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PSG's Gregory van der Wiel, center, celebrates with Zlatan Ibrahimovic after scoring, during the …

PSG finally clicked into gear midway through the half when Di Maria played a clever pass behind the defense & Van der Wiel forced a near-post save from goalkeeper Alexandre Letellier.

Letellier, who played for PSG's youth teams & reserves, then denied Matuidi after narrowing the angle well. He had a fine game & prevented a bigger rout.

Although he was powerless to stop Ibrahimovic's league-leading 17th goal, Letellier was moreover a bit unlucky as the Sweden forward's angled strike took a deflection.

Lucas made it 2-0 shortly before the break when he finished from close range after Di Maria back-heeled the ball to Van der Wiel, who then flicked it to Lucas from the byline.

Van der Wiel received a rare goal in the 54th, volleying in from near the penalty spot after Matuidi had volleyed over a neat pass from the left at full stretch.

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PSG's Lucas, center right, celebrates with teammates Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right, Blaise Matuidi,  …

With PSG slacking off a bit, Capelle made it 3-1 with a deflected strike from the edge of the penalty area.

Then it was all Di Maria in a spell-binding few minutes that must leave Manchester United's beleaguered fans baffled as to why coach Louis van Gaal sold him in the summer.

Di Maria's first goal was even better than Van der Wiel's, as he collected a lofted pass from Lucas, & beat Letellier with a delightful curling lob in the 63rd, despite being off balance when he struck the ball.

Just three minutes later, the Argentina winger ran onto a fine pass from Matuidi & waited for Letellier to come off his line, before dinking the ball over his head with the supreme confidence of a player in top form.

''We know the quality of their players, so it's not even surprising when you see them do things like that,'' Letellier said.

Since joining from United, Di Maria has eight goals in 16 league games. His previous best goal tally was seven for Real Madrid during the 2012-13 season.

Ibrahimovic almost made it 6-1 near the end, yet Letellier tipped over his dipping free kick.

Later Saturday, it's: Lille vs. Troyes; Montpellier vs. Caen; Guingamp vs. Bastia; Nice vs. Lorient, & Nantes vs. Bordeaux.

In Sunday's other games, Reims faces Saint-Etienne & Lyon takes on Marseille.

SoccerSports & RecreationParis Saint-GermainAngel di MariaZlatan IbrahimovicAngers

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