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Pastore scores 2 as PSG wins 3-1 at Nice to go top of French league; Cavani converts penalty

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PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain showed it can cope with injuries and without top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic as it won 3-1 at Nice on Saturday to pressure Lyon in the close-fought French title race.

Midfielder Javier Pastore scored twice, either side of captain Mathieu Bodmer's equalizer for Nice, and forward Edinson Cavani sealed the win with a penalty.

PSG was one point ahead of Lyon with six games remaining. Lyon can reclaim top spot if it beats bitter rival Saint-Etienne at home on Sunday, but will have played one more game than PSG.

Third-place Monaco lost ground to PSG as it conceded a last-minute goal in a 1-1 home draw with Rennes ahead of the return leg of its Champions League quarterfinal against Juventus.

PSG was missing captain Thiago Silva and midfielder Thiago Motta through injury, while Ibrahimovic started his three-match ban for insulting match officials following a defeat to Bordeaux.

"We are battling against mental and physical fatigue. The first half was very tricky for us because Nice played some good football," PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. "I told my players at halftime that we couldn't be satisfied with how we were playing, that we'd come to Nice to take the three points."

Pastore soothed the nerves with goals in each half. Before halftime, he gave a crisp finish to a cross from winger Lucas. After halftime, he restored the lead putting away a rebound save.

Blanc rested left back Maxwell and key midfielder Blaise Matuidi for Tuesday's Champions League return leg against Barcelona, where PSG faces a massive task against the Spanish league leader after losing the first leg 3-1 at home.

PHOTO: Nice's Mohamed Benrahma, right, challenges for the ball with PSG's Lucas Digne during their French League One soccer match, Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nice stadium, southeastern France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Nice's Mohamed Benrahma, right, challenges for the ball with PSG's Lucas Digne during their French League One soccer match, Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nice stadium, southeastern France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

PSG, which has already secured the League Cup, remains in competition for the domestic treble, and is through to the French Cup final.

"We knew we had a full program because we wanted to give our all in every competition," Blanc said. "We could have done things another way but I think we were right."

Bernardo Silva put Monaco in front of Rennes in the 29th minute after making the most of a bad clearance from Edson Mexer, but the hosts failed to hold onto their lead when forward Habib Habibou scored his third goal this season from Kamil Grosicki's assist.

Monaco needs to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Juventus after Arturo Vidal scored a controversial penalty in Turin

In late games, Reims coach Olivier Guegan led his team to a first win since taking over this month as the Champagne side defeated Bastia 2-1 to move three points above the relegation zone.

Guingamp was held to 1-1 at home by Evian, while former France international Florent Malouda was on the scoresheet in Metz's much-needed 3-1 win over fellow struggler Lens.

Metz is eight points below safety, with last-place Lens trailing three points further back.

Lille faces Bordeaux, and Montpellier hosts Caen in Sunday's other games.

Fourth-place Marseille lost 1-0 at Nantes on Friday for a third straight defeat.

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PHOTO: PSG's Javier Pastore reacts after scoring the first goal against Nice in their French League One soccer match, Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nice stadium, southeastern France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
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