Striker Edinson Cavani scored his 18th league goal of the season as Paris Saint-Germain trounced woeful Lorient 5-0 on Wednesday to take some pressure off coach Unai Emery heading into the winter break.
Third-place PSG is three points behind Monaco, which beat Caen 2-1 at home, and five behind league leader Nice, which drew 0-0 away to Bordeaux.
The spotlight was firmly on Emery after last weekend’s 2-1 defeat away to Guingamp _ PSG’s fourth loss in the league so far _ but Lorient’s abysmal defending made it too easy.
After a quiet opening spell, right back Thomas Meunier put PSG ahead in the 25th minute with an audacious piece of skill, clipping the ball over the head of a Guingamp defender and floating a shot into the opposite corner.
Lorient center half Zargo Toure score an own goal just before halftime and Brazilian defender Thiago Silva rose unchallenged to head in a corner in the 51st minute.
The communication between goalkeeper Paul Delecroix and his defense appeared non-existent all night.
For the fourth goal, a gaping hole was left as Cavani ran onto a through ball and then appeared to go down before any contact from Delecroix. The penalty was awarded, and Cavani sent Delecroix the wrong way for his 24th goal in all competitions.
Brazilian winger Lucas expertly controlled Marco Verratti’s long ball and coolly lobbed Delecroix to make it 5-0 with 20 minutes left.
Still, given how bad last-place Lorient was, there is little reason to suggest Emery has turned the corner.
PSG has already lost twice as many league games as it did last season, when it was unbeaten in the league until Feb. 28, won Ligue 1 by a record 31 points, and scored 102 goals.
Emery will need some good performances to convince the club’s Qatari owners that they made the right decision to fire Laurent Blanc and hire him after he guided Spanish club Sevilla to a third straight Europa League title.
PSG lost only four games last season in all competitions as it won a second straight domestic treble under Blanc, who was replaced because he failed to get past the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Five-time European champion Barcelona stands between PSG and a place in the quarterfinals. But before that, PSG resumes league duties on Jan. 14 with a tough match away to Rennes.
BORDEAUX 0, NICE 0
Nice had striker Mario Balotelli and midfielder Younes Belhanda sent off in the last minute of an even encounter.
Balotelli was red carded for kicking out at Polish defender Igor Lewczuk and Belhanda joined him in the dressing room moments later for another perceived retaliation.
Nice striker Alassane Plea and Bordeaux’s Brazilian forward Malcom went close in the first half, during which Balotelli had to change his bloodied shirt after getting caught by a stray arm from Bordeaux midfielder Jeremy Toulalan.
Bordeaux striker Diego Rolan hit the post and Balotelli had a shot saved in an even second half.
MONACO 2, CAEN 1
Monaco survived an early scare to beat 10-man Caen.
Caen almost scored in the 16th minute, when midfielder Julien Feret played in Croatian striker Ivan Santini with a clever pass and Santini’s deflected shot hit the crossbar.
Monaco made the most of the reprieve when Colombia striker Radamel Falcao earned and scored a penalty in the 48th minute for his 11th goal in 13 league games this season.
Moments later, defender Damien Da Silva was shown a second yellow card for hauling back 17-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe.
Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko made it 2-0 in the 76th, while Caen striker Herve Bazile pulled a goal back in injury time.
LYON 2, ANGERS 0
Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette continued his fine form with his 13th goal in 14 league games.
Lacazette later turned provider, making a fine run and then cushioning a pass perfectly for forward Nabil Fekir made it 2-0 near the end.
Lyon is in fourth place, five points behind PSG but with a game in hand.
Striker Bafetimbi Gomis netted his 10th of the season and forward Clinton N’Jie scored an injury-minute winner as Marseille beat Bastia 2-1 to make it four league wins in a row.
Sixth-place Marseille is level on points with Guingamp, which has a better goal difference.
Veteran forward Jimmy Briand scored twice for Guingamp in a 2-2 draw away to Metz.
Portugal forward Eder _ scorer of the extra time winner in the European Championship final against France in July _ equalized in the 89th for Lille in a 1-1 home draw against Rennes.
Nancy had defender Erick Cabaco sent off on the hour mark but drew 0-0 away to Saint-Etienne.
Former Portugal winger Sergio Conceicao celebrated his third straight win since taking charge of Nantes with a 1-0 home victory against Montpellier.
Dijon beat Toulouse 2-0 to move away from the relegation zone.