Neymar lifts PSG past Toulouse ahead of Real trip
Neymar scored the only goal as Paris Saint-Germain ground out a 1-0 victory at Toulouse on Saturday (Feb 10) in their final tune-up for next week's Champions League showdown against holders Real Madrid.
The runaway French league leaders stretched their advantage at the top to 12 points courtesy of Neymar's 19th Ligue 1 goal of the season midway through the second half in Toulouse, while Monaco thrashed Angers 4-0 to go second.
Unai Emery's team will now turn their focus to Wednesday's first leg of their heavyweight last-16 tie against Cristiano Ronaldo's faltering Real in the Spanish capital.
Emery confirmed after the game that defensive midfielder Thiago Motta would not be fit in time to face the reigning European champions.
"I think we're ready for Real. We have a 50 percent chance, like Real," Marco Verratti, who was rested against Toulouse, told Canal+.
"I don't know who the coach will choose to play in defensive midfield. Lass (Diarra) has great experience, he's played against some big teams in his career, while Giovani (Lo Celso) is improving."
Neymar returned to the PSG line-up after sitting out Tuesday's French Cup win over Sochaux, but Edinson Cavani, the league's leading scorer with 21 goals this term, missed the trip south with a hip complaint.
Lassana Diarra came in for his first start in the league, while Emery elected to also rest captain Thiago Silva ahead of the visit to the Bernabeu.
The first half was largely played in the Toulouse half, with 19-year-old goalkeeper Alban Lafont producing an excellent fingertip save to deny Kylian Mbappe and then sticking out his right boot to keep out Neymar.
The home keeper was almost caught out by an Angel Di Maria corner just before the break but was relieved to see the ball smack against the crossbar and away to safety.
Neymar delivered the breakthrough on 68 minutes when he gathered Di Maria's crossfield ball, twisted his way past Steeve Yago, and fired in a shot that took a wicked deflection off Issa Diop to beat Lafont.
Only the woodwork prevented the Brazilian from adding to his tally, as Neymar planted an effort against the base of the post before curling a sublime 25-yard shot against the bar.
MONACO HIT FOUR TO GO SECOND
Reigning champions Monaco brushed off the absence of injured captain Radamel Falcao to thump Angers and boost their Champions League qualification hopes.
Stevan Jovetic led the line with Keita Balde also missing through suspension, and scored twice as Leonardo Jardim's men moved into second above Marseille.
The visitors took a 10th-minute lead in comical circumstances as Angers goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle palmed the ball into his own net while trying to keep out a mishit clearance from his own defender Romain Thomas.
A quick counter-attack on the half-hour mark ended with Jovetic dinking delightfully over Butelle to double the lead, before the Montenegrin international tapped in an unselfish pass from Thomas Lemar to score his sixth goal for Monaco since joining from Inter Milan last year.
Italian full-back Andrea Raggi completed the scoring with 19 minutes to play as Monaco extended their unbeaten run to 10 league matches.
Elsewhere, Montpellier edged out bottom club Metz 1-0 to jump to fifth in the table, while Bordeaux beat Amiens 3-2 and Nice lost by the same score at Dijon.
Fourth-placed Lyon will attempt to snap a run of back-to-back league defeats at home to Rennes on Sunday, while Marseille lost keeper Steve Mandanda to injury during Friday's 2-2 draw at Saint-Etienne, with the France international expected to be sidelined for two to three weeks.
Collated French Ligue 1 results on Saturday:
Toulouse 0 Paris Saint-Germain 1
Angers 0 Monaco 4
Bordeaux 3 Amiens 2
Dijon 3 Nice 2
Guingamp 0 Caen 0
Metz 0 Montpellier 1