Angel Di Maria scored a sumptuous free-kick and Kylian Mbappe was also on target as Paris Saint-Germain continued their relentless march towards another French title by hammering Montpellier 5-1 on Wednesday.
With Neymar and Edinson Cavani still absent, Layvin Kurzawa also scored for PSG at the Parc des Princes, while two own goals completed the rout.
Florent Mollet had equalised at one point in the first half for the visitors before they crumbled in a rearranged fixture that had initially been postponed in early December due to disruption caused by “yellow vest” anti-government protests in France.
As they warm up for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Manchester United on March 6, PSG are now a huge 15 points clear of second-placed Lille, and still have a game in hand as they race to a sixth Ligue 1 title in seven seasons.
“It came down to patience, and quality, and a bit of luck as well,” said PSG coach Thomas Tuchel after his side maintained their perfect home record in the league this season.
It was also their ninth win by a margin of at least four goals in the current campaign.
“It was not our best peformance, but with our attacking quality it was a deserved victory,” added Tuchel.
He was missing a host of players for this game, with skipper Thiago Silva suspended. French international left-back Kurzawa was making his first start in the league in an injury-hit season and he opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a header from a Daniel Alves cross.
However, Montpellier recovered well from that and claimed a deserved leveller just after the half-hour mark from a Mollet free-kick. Gianluigi Buffon thought he had kept it out, but goal-line technology confirmed the ball had just crossed the line.
Nevertheless, Di Maria restored PSG’s lead in first-half stoppage time with a stunning dead-ball strike from 30 yards that went in off the underside of the bar for his sixth league goal of the season.
PSG then ran away with the game in the closing stages, although only after both Mbappe and substitute Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting had efforts disallowed for offside.
– Two own goals –
It was 3-1 in the 73rd minute when Christopher Nkunku, on a rare start, saw his header deflect in off Petar Skuletic, and Mbappe then took centre stage.
The young World Cup winner turned in a Kurzawa centre in the 78th minute, but the goal was attributed to Montpellier’s 41-year-old defender Hilton.
From the restart, PSG won possession back and Mbappe beat Montpellier goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte with the aid of a huge deflection off Hilton.
This time the goal was given to Mbappe, who now has 20 goals in 19 league appearances this season, and 25 in all competitions.
Montpellier remain sixth, while PSG now host mid-table Nimes on Saturday before a French Cup quarter-final against Dijon and then a visit to Caen, as their busy schedule continues before the visit of United.
The other game in France on Wednesday saw bottom side Guingamp draw 0-0 at Bordeaux.