Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his devastating run of scoring form when he netted his maiden Ligue 1 hat-trick to inspire Paris St Germain to a clinical 4-0 win at Valenciennes on Tuesday.
Ibrahimovic, who has now netted 17 goals in 14 league appearances, helped second-placed Paris St Germain cut Olympique Lyon’s lead to two points before the seven-times French champions travel to basement side Nancy on Wednesday.
PSG have 32 points from 17 games and lead third-placed Olympique Marseille, who play at Bastia on Wednesday, by three points.
Valenciennes, who were unbeaten at home, remain fifth on 26 points after the beating they suffered in the Stade du Hainaut.
"Our confidence has been growing," PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi told Canal Plus. "We beat a team who were unbeaten at home, and in style."
PSG, who had suffered a run of three defeats in five league games, have now won their last three matches in all competitions, scoring 10 goals and conceding one.
They next face Lyon in a top-of-the-table clash at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.
"We’re confident. It is surely going to be a spectacular match," said Matuidi.
Valenciennes had the first chance after nine minutes when Matthieu Dossevi’s sweet low shot went just wide.
PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu then did well to punch away Nicolas Isimat-Mirin’s header as the visitors struggled to contain Valenciennes.
However, PSG went ahead against the run of play after 29 minutes through Ibrahimovic and never looked back.
Pastore found Jeremy Menez with a clever back heel and the France forward’s shot was deflected into the path of Ezequiel Lavezzi, whose attempt was steered past goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau by PSG’s Sweden striker.
The visitors’ Dutch centre back Alex was replaced by Mamadou Sakho on the stroke of halftime after picking up an injury.
Ibrahimovic doubled his tally five minutes into the second half when he poked the ball home after Penneteau parried Pastore’s volley into his path.
Ibrahimovic, who had already scored five doubles in the league this season, completed his treble four minutes later, tapping in Menez’s cross from the left.
Lavezzi, who has been approaching the form that made him a fans’ favourite at Napoli, rounded off the victory in the 83rd at the end of a solo run after being nicely set up by Marco Verratti’s through ball.
Nice beat nine-man Stade Rennes 1-0 thanks to a 66th-minute Dario Cvitanitch penalty after Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik and Yassine Jebbour were sent off in the 52nd and 64th minutes respectively.
Later on Tuesday (2000 GMT), Lille, who are 11th, take on 10th-placed Toulouse.