Rennes 0 Paris Saint-Germain 1: Draxler decisive on Ligue 1 debut
Julian Draxler marked his Ligue 1 debut by scoring in Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 victory over Rennes at Roazhon Park on Saturday.
The big-money signing from Wolfsburg scored on his first competitive outing in last weekend's 7-0 Coupe de France demolition of Bastia and, after sitting out the midweek clash against Metz with a knock, found the net again to put the pressure on Ligue 1 leaders Nice and second-placed Monaco.
Draxler bent a sublime finish across goalkeeper Benoit Costil to send PSG level with Monaco, who play away at Marseille after Nice, whose advantage at the summit is now two points, host Metz.
The reigning champions may feel hard done by not to have added to the scoreline, with Marco Verratti receiving a yellow card from referee Benoit Bastien after being harshly deemed to have dived inside the box in the first half.
Replays suggested it may well have been the wrong decision, but Bastien was clearly unfazed and booked Thiago Motta for trying to win a penalty in the second half, though this time his decision appeared correct.
Rennes offered minimal threat with top scorer Giovanni Sio away on international duty with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, and PSG avoided a third successive winless Ligue 1 match on the road.
Edinson Cavani had a chance to match his record of 19 goals in a single Ligue 1 season after 41 seconds, but somehow stabbed wide from eight yards when one-on-one with Costil.
Draxler managed to hit the target with his first attempt in the eighth minute, though he sent it straight at Costil for a fairly routine save.
The Rennes goalkeeper remained alert to parry Blaise Matuidi's 25-yard strike away to his left and PSG's early urgency soon ebbed away with Christian Gourcuff's side gaining composure.
The visitors should have had a penalty before the half-hour mark when Verratti went down under contact from the onrushing Costil, but referee Bastien deemed it simulation and showed the incredulous midfielder a yellow card.
Rennes were unable to keep PSG out much longer, Draxler curling a sublime first-time finish from Verratti's pass into the bottom-right corner in the 39th minute.
Lucas Moura headed wide before Unai Emery's team were denied another penalty in the 62nd minute.
Motta went down after knocking the ball past Costil but clearly sought the smallest amount of contact, Bastien keeping his cool despite the first-half controversy and adding the Italy international's name to the book.
Wesley Said had a tame effort held by Kevin Trapp before Cavani, who received minimal service, was replaced by Hatem Ben Arfa in the 70th minute.
Draxler was taken off for Adrien Rabiot three minutes later, and the midfielder forced an impressive save from Costil as PSG comfortably saw out just a second win in their last five Ligue 1 outings.