Late Cavani penalty gives PSG scrappy win against Nancy

PSG's Edinson Cavani. (Francois Mori/AP)

Paris Saint-Germain needed a late penalty from top scorer Edinson Cavani to scrape home against struggling Nancy 1-0 in the French league on Saturday.

PSG moved level with leader Monaco, which has a vastly better goal difference and can restore its three-point lead against Nantes on Sunday.

Meanwhile, third-place Nice moved level on points with PSG and Monaco after winning 1-0 away to Dijon.

It was a poor performance from PSG, which seemed to be heading for a second consecutive home draw when right back Serge Aurier won a penalty and Cavani tucked it away with 10 minutes left. Video replays suggested Aurier went to ground too easily, although at full speed it would have been hard to tell.

"He let himself fall," Nancy midfielder Loic Puyo said about Aurier. "He was clever."

Cavani’s penalty was almost saved by goalkeeper Sergey Chernik, who stood up until the last moment and guessed the right way.

Just before the goal, Nancy came close to scoring when substitute Alexis Busin’s shot hit the left post and rolled onto the right post.

It was a lucky reprieve for a PSG side playing with none of the flair and panache it showed when winning 5-1 at Marseille on Sunday.

That was also because of Nancy’s resolute and organized defending, much in the same way as Toulouse when it drew 0-0 at Parc des Princes two weeks ago.

"It’s difficult to play well against teams that deny you space," Cavani said. "If you don’t score early on in these games, these teams become more confident."

Cavani’s goal was his 27th in the league, but otherwise he played poorly, heading wide from point-blank range early in the second half after rolling a shot wide in the first.

With a return match at Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday, PSG coach Unai Emery rested some key players.

DIJON 0, NICE 1

Mario Balotelli still can’t score away from home, but at least midfielder Wylan Cyprien can.

Balotelli’s nine league goals have all come at home this season, and the striker looked unhappy when he was substituted late on.

Cyprien scored the winner midway through the second half for his second consecutive winner away from home.

He netted in a 1-0 win at Lorient two weeks ago — in a match where Balotelli was sent off — and half of his eight goals have been scored away.

Dijon remains in the relegation zone.

OTHER MATCHES

Saint-Etienne slipped in the chase for a Europa League place when it drew 0-0 at lowly Bastia in a scrappy match with a player sent off from each side.

Saint-Etienne is in sixth place, three points behind fifth-place Bordeaux.

Elsewhere, striker Wesley Said scored a last-minute equalizer as eighth-place Rennes secured a 1-1 draw at Metz, and Montpellier striker Steve Mounie netted his sixth in six games during a 1-1 home draw with Guingamp.

Angers moved up to ninth with a 3-2 win away to Normandy side Caen.