PARIS — Edinson Cavani’s goals at one end are carrying a Paris Saint-Germain side that is conceding them with alarming regularity at the other.
Cavani scored twice in the second half as the defending champion rallied from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to league leader Nice on Sunday.
PSG has lost three times already in the league this season and narrowly avoided a fourth defeat — having lost only twice all last season.
After 17 games, PSG sits in third place, three points behind Monaco and four behind Nice.
The situation would be a lot worse without Cavani’s league-leading 16 goals — especially if he had given in to the critics who wanted him gone this summer.
The sometimes clumsy Uruguay forward was often criticized by his own fans when playing a supporting role to Zlatan Ibrahimovic over the previous three campaigns. But he has stepped firmly out of Ibrahimovic’s imposing shadow since the Swede joined Manchester United.
Altogether, Cavani has 22 goals in 21 games this season and 103 in his PSG career, making him the club’s third all-time leading scorer. He is closing on former Portugal forward Pauleta (109) but remains some distance behind Ibrahimovic (156).
Although defensive blunders hit PSG for the third straight game, it was an awful mistake from Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale that gifted Cavani the equalizier.
After volleying in right back Serge Aurier’s cross one minute after the restart, Cavani then got the easiest of tap-ins on the hour mark.
Cardinale flapped weakly at left back Layvin Kurzawa’s cross, patting the ball onto the back of Dante. It fell to Cavani, one meter out.
"What I regret is the two goals we conceded, they were too easy," Nice coach Lucien Favre said on Canal Plus television. "That joke goal was not possible."
In a measure of how well Nice is playing, its players were bitterly disappointed not to win.
"We should have played much better in the second half," Nice’s Brazilian defender Dante said. "We should have been cleverer."
Midfielder Wylan Cyprien’s brilliant curling free kick from 25 metres put Nice ahead in the 32nd, totally against the run of play after PSG had missed several chances.
Then, following a mix-up between Brazilian defenders Thiago Silva and Marquinhos on a cross from the left, striker Alassane Plea moved in between them to make it 2-0 in first-half injury time with his 10th league goal of the season. Marquinhos made careless mistakes in a 3-0 defeat away to Montpellier last weekend and was at fault for Ludogorets’ second goal in a 2-2 home draw in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Given such vulnerable defending, Nice had cause for regret.
"We wasted our lead," Cyprien said. "But let’s not be too dramatic. It’s still a good point that will serve us well."
LYON 1, RENNES 0
Mathieu Valbuena is finally finding his best form for Lyon as the winger’s well-taken goal sealed a 1-0 home win.
Midfielder Rachid Ghezzal did well down the right and picked out Valbuena as he advanced from the left into the penalty area. Valbuena drilled a low shot past goalkeeper Benoit Costil in the 28th minute to score for the third league game in a row.
Lyon’s win moved it above Rennes into fourth place.
Valbuena only managed one goal in 26 games last season, when he had trouble settling in following a move from Dinamo Moscow.
Rennes defender Ramy Bensebaini was sent off in the 74th minute for pulling back striker Alexandre Lacazette as he was through on goal.
SAINT-ETIENNE 1, GUINGAMP 0
Although winger Romain Hamouma scored the winner for Saint-Etienne, the best performance came from its goalkeeper, Stephane Ruffier.
Hamouma finished neatly midway through the first half following some fine work from right back Kevin Malcuit.
Ruffier, who has played more than 200 league games for Les Verts, then made excellent saves.
Saint-Etienne’s win moved it up to eighth place, just behind sixth-placed Guingamp.