- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

PARIS (AP) - Paris Saint-Germain thrashed Bastia 3-0 in the French league to keep an eight-point lead over Monaco, which edged Sochaux 2-1 on Saturday.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic notched his 23rd league goal with a header in the sixth minute.

Ezequiel Lavezzi made it 2-0 with a side-footed finish in the 19th before sealing the win in the 88th.

The defending champion was unbeaten in its last 12 league games but PSG coach Laurent Blanc was quick to downplay title speculation.

“We must be careful,” Blanc said. “Every team can have a poor run of form.”

In Monaco, Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov converted a cross from Layvin Kurzawa in the sixth minute for his first goal in the league.

Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez doubled the lead from the penalty spot in the 55th after Sochaux defender Julien Faussurier fouled Berbatov.

Sochaux substitute Edouard Butin pulled one back in the 83rd. But the visitors’ hopes of salvaging a draw were dealt a blow in the 84th when Jordan Ayew was red-carded for kicking Monaco defender Andrea Raggi.

Elsewhere, Wissam Ben Yedder fired home a low strike in the 88th to give mid-table Toulouse a 3-2 win over Reims. Valenciennes kept alive its hopes of safety by edging Rennes 2-1 with goals from Mathieu Dossevi in the 54th and Majeed Waris in the 76th. Cedric Cambon scored with a close-range header in the 49th to help Evian beat Guingamp 1-0 and stay five points above the relegation zone.

Sigamary Diarra netted in the third minute of stoppage time to earn a point for last-place Ajaccio in a 2-2 draw with Nantes.

In Corsica, PSG nearly took the lead after only 15 seconds. Lavezzi intercepted a sloppy pass from Bastia defender Francois-Joseph Modesto and squared the ball back for Lucas Moura, whose low strike was cleared off the line by Modesto.

Ibrahimovic was more clinical a few minutes later, outjumping midfielder Yannick Cahuzac at the far post to head into the top corner a cross from Moura.

The Sweden striker created the second goal by playing Lavezzi in with an acrobatic backheel flick. Lavezzi held off Modesto to beat goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca with a low strike.

Bastia took advantage of PSG’s drop in intensity in the second half to test goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu with long-range efforts from Romaric in the 59th and Ryad Boudebouz in the 63rd.

The visitors put the result beyond doubt in the closing minutes. Ibrahimovic diverted a long ball toward Lavezzi, who rounded Leca to slam the ball into an empty net.

“I think we lost the match on our kickoff,” Bastia coach Frederic Hantz said. “We usually move the ball forward, but this time we gifted them a scoring chance. So they got off to a good start while we played with fear because of that.”

Blanc rested Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Silva. Matuidi replaced Adrien Rabiot in the 65th but Silva stayed on the bench.

PSG forward Edinson Cavani was not in the squad after flying back to Uruguay this week for what the club called “private matters.”

On Sunday, third-place Lille hosts Montpellier, Saint-Etienne visits Lorient and Lyon faces Bordeaux.

On Friday, Marseille lost 1-0 to Nice.

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