Brilliant Neymar sends PSG 10 points clear

Soccer Football - Ligue 1 - Lille v Paris St Germain - Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, France - January 26, 2020 Paris St Germain's Neymar in action REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

PARIS (Reuters) – Neymar was in a class of his own again on Sunday, scoring a double to help Paris St Germain extend their Ligue 1 lead to 10 points with a 2-0 win at Lille.

Brazil forward Neymar found the back of the net either side of the interval with a sublime curled shot and a penalty to put PSG on 52 points from 21 games.

Second-placed Olympique de Marseille were held to a goalless stalemate at home by Angers on Saturday.

Lille dropped down to seventh on 31 points.

“I’m very happy to help the team play like this, to score goals,” said Neymar, who put the visitors ahead in the 28th minute with a superb strike into the top corner from just outside the box after a one-two with Marco Verratti.

“I’m at 100% and fully focused on PSG this season.”

Captain Thiago Silva was replaced at halftime with a possible thigh injury as coach Thomas Tuchel already has to deal with the absence of fellow centre back Marquinhos, who is out for three weeks with a thigh problem.

Neymar, however, doubled the tally by converting a penalty seven minutes into the second half after a Reinildo handball.

The Brazilian dedicated his goal to former Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, by raising two fingers in one hand and four fingers with the other to signal the number 24 — Bryant’s shirt number.

Neymar is the first player to score 47 goals in his first 50 games in the French elite since Gunnar Andersson netted 47 for Olympique de Marseille between 1950 and 1952.

Nantes paid tribute to former striker Emiliano Sala, who died a year ago in a plane crash on his way to joining Cardiff City, in their home game against Girondins de Bordeaux.

The Canaries traded their usual yellow and green colours for Argentine’s blue and white strip for the game, which also featured a minute’s applause before kickoff.

Bordeaux won 1-0 thanks to a Jimmy Briand goal, leaving Nantes in sixth place on 32 points.

Earlier, Karl Toko-Ekambi scored on his Olympique Lyonnais debut to help them snatch a 3-0 home win against bottom side Toulouse and move up to fifth.

Cameroon forward Toko-Ekambi, on loan from Villarreal, added to Maxwel Cornet and Moussa Dembele’s earlier goals to put OL on 32 points.

Toko-Ekambi came on for Martin Terrier in the first half after his team mate collapsed on the pitch before being carried off on a stretcher to a standing ovation.

“Martin Terrier was a victim of a vasovagal attack earlier during the first half,” Lyon said.

“Our player is better and has regained consciousness.

Toulouse, who have now lost their last 11 league matches, have 12 points.