French champions in sight of knock-out rounds

French champions in sight of knock-out rounds

Paris Saint-Germain edged closer to progression to the Champions League last 16 with an oddly unconvincing 3-0 win over Basel on Tuesday.

The French champions are four points adrift of Nice at the top of the Ligue 1 table in Unai Emery's first season in charge and they were second best for long periods at the Parc des Princes.

Michael Lang and Seydou Doumbia were each thwarted by the woodwork in the first half for Basel while Renato Steffen also wasted a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring for the Swiss side.

And Basel were eventually punished for their profligacy in the 40th minute as Angel Di Maria fired in his first goal of the season.

Lucas Moura capitalised on a mistake from Marek Suchy, who later became the third Basel player to hit the goal frame, to make it 2-0, with Edinson Cavani applying gloss to the scoreline with a late penalty.

Despite the underwhelming nature of the performance, PSG can seal a place in the knock-out rounds with victory in the reverse fixture in Switzerland, providing Arsenal avoid defeat against Ludogorets.

Basel had PSG on the ropes early on as Lang's header clattered the woodwork before Steffen was denied by Alphonse Areola one-on-one and Doumbia blazed the rebound over.

Adrien Rabiot's low long-range drive had represented PSG's best effort of the first half until Di Maria went close to breaking the deadlock in spectacular fashion on the half-hour, acrobatically volleying wide after Lucas and Marco Verratti combined well.

But Basel continued to enjoy the better opportunities and were again denied by the frame of the goal as Doumbia nodded Matias Delgado's superb cross against the far post.

PSG immediately countered and Rabiot forced Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik into action with a thunderous swerving effort from the edge of the area.

However, Vaclik was helpless to stop PSG taking the lead five minutes before half-time. Rabiot was again involved as Blaise Matuidi latched onto his pass down the left flank, with Cavani laying the France midfielder's deflected cross back for Di Maria to lash home.

Di Maria almost turned provider shortly after the restart, Cavani meeting his right-wing free-kick with a header that clipped the outside of the post.

Cavani wasted another opportunity as he could only muster a tame strike when through on goal down the right-hand side, but mattered little when Lucas doubled the lead with a simple finish.

The Brazil winger coolly slotted in from close range after Suchy sliced Serge Aurier's low right-wing cross into his path.

Suchy would have immediately atoned for his mistake had PSG's goal not continued to lead a charmed life, the centre-back striking the left-hand post with a header from Delgado's free-kick.

But there was to be no reward for Basel, with PSG finally able to take their foot off the gas ahead of this weekend's Classique with Marseille, though Cavani added a finishing touch with a confident penalty after being felled by Lang.