By Ed Dove
STRASBOURG (Reuters) – Paris Saint-Germain moved 19 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with a 3-0 victory away to Caen on Saturday inspired by their Argentina forward Angel Di Maria who netted twice.
Di Maria scored either side of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic volley as PSG moved on to 51 points above second-placed Monaco, who missed a penalty in a 0-0 draw at 10-man bottom side Troyes, and Angers, a point further back before facing St-Etienne on Sunday.
Caen, who missed a late penalty through Andy Delort, remain in fourth place on 30 points from 19 matches.
Champions PSG have broken the half-season points record set by Olympique Lyonnais who entered the winter break in 2006 with 50 points.
Di Maria opened the scoring in the 16th minute when he fired past Remy Vercoutre after Serge Aurier’s cross was deflected into his path off Syam Ben Youssef.
Ligue 1 top scorer Ibrahimovic doubled their lead in the 36th minute with a thunderous volley, his 15th league goal of the season, from the edge of the box, before Di Maria impudently lifted the ball over Vercoutre five minutes after the break.
“The record fell,” Laurent Blanc told L’Equipe, “but the mid-term records aren’t what I prefer.
“I hope that in 2016, we’ll have the same motivation and the same mindset that we had in 2015, because when we’ve got that mindset, we’re very difficult to beat.”
Monaco moved up to second place on 32 points, one ahead of third-placed Angers, but will be disappointed to have been held at Troyes having missed an early penalty.
Troyes played almost the entire match with 10 men after Mouhamadou Dabo was sent off in the third minute after conceding a penalty for a foul on Helder Costa but Lacine Traore’s spot kick for Monaco was saved by Paul Bernardoni.
“We have to congratulate Troyes, they fought well with 10 (men),” Monaco’s Jeremy Toulalan told beIN SPORTS. “At least we’re still in the top three.”
Lille’s Sofiane Boufal scored a sublime 87th-minute goal to rescue a 1-1 draw at struggling Toulouse, who finished with 10 men after Tongo Doumbia was sent off in the 68th.
Stade Rennes won 2-0 at local rivals Guingamp, Bastia saw off Stade de Reims 2-0 at home to move up to 14th place, while Lorient and Nantes shared a 0-0 stalemate.
There are three matches on Sunday, including Lyon’s trip to Ajaccio and Olympique de Marseille at Girondins Bordeaux.
(Writing by Ed Dove; editing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Ken Ferris)