PARIS — Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to spearhead Paris Saint-Germain's attack, but it was Edinson Cavani who set the tone with his fourth goal in four games as PSG won 2-0 at Nantes to move three points clear of Lyon in the French title race on Sunday.
Ibrahimovic had missed the three previous games for insulting officials after a league match against Bordeaux at the end of March, giving Cavani the chance to play in his favored center forward role.
Despite being pushed out wide on the right because of Ibrahimovic's return, Cavani took only three minutes to make his mark with an opportunist shot that went in off the post.
PSG goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez made two smart saves in the first half, in between PSG's second goal scored by Blaise Matuidi in the 31st. The France midfielder ran onto Ibrahimovic's pass and finished with a left-footed shot past goalie Remy Riou.
"We're top of the league and I hope we stay there. It's going to be hard to catch us now," Matuidi said. "Now that we have fewer games to play, we'll be able to recover better and to give our all until the end of the season."
The only downside for PSG was that midfielders Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti both picked up yellow cards and will be suspended for the away game at Montpellier on May 16.
Lyon, which beat struggling Evian 2-0 on Saturday, has a slightly better goal difference than PSG.
"I'm very happy with how we played, the first 25 minutes were of a very high standard," PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. "Nantes woke up after that and caused us a few problems, but overall I think we controlled the game well."
Meanwhile, teenage forward Anthony Martial continued his fine run of form with his eighth goal in nine games as Monaco beat Toulouse 4-1 to consolidate third place and a Champions League spot next season.
The 19-year-old Martial, one of the French league's best players in the second half of the season, slotted home a penalty in first-half injury time to make it 2-1 after being fouled from behind by midfielder Oscar Trejo.
Monaco took the lead in the ninth minute through Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva's slightly deflected strike — his fifth goal in four games, only for Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite to level midway through the first half.
Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho added the third goal in the 56th when he headed in a cross from Italian defender Andrea Raggi.
Both sides finished with 10 men after Monaco midfielder Nabil Dirar and Toulouse defender Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik were sent off in the 79th following an altercation.
Forward Valere Germain replaced Martial in the 89th and made it 4-1 two minutes into injury time after running onto a fine angled pass from Moutinho.
The win keeps Monaco five points ahead of fourth-place Marseille with three matches to play. Monaco travels to play Marseille at Stade Velodrome next week.
Earlier, Divock Origi scored his eighth goal of the season as Lille kept alive its hopes of qualifying for Europe with a 3-1 win over Lens.
Last-place Lens was relegated even before traveling to its fierce rival for the northern derby. The club has been struggling the whole season after Azerbaijani shareholders failed to invest as much as promised into the club.
But the visitors gave their fans something to cheer when Pablo Chavarria scored in the 24th, making the most of Taylor Moore's long ball to slot home from close range.
Lille was rewarded for its offensive pressure in the 41st after Adama Traore was fouled by Loick Landre on the edge of the box, with Sofiane Boufal coolly converting the penalty.
The hosts dominated the second half but failed to create real chances until Djibril Sidibe latched on to the ball on the edge of the area after a one-two with Traore and slotted home in the 74th. Origi, on a season's loan from Liverpool, made it 3-1 in added time.
Lille is three points behind sixth-place Bordeaux and can still qualify for the Europa League next season.