Forward Neymar Jr. showed there was no hangover from his prolific birthday party by scoring the winner as leader Paris Saint-Germain won at Toulouse 1-0 in the French league on Saturday.
The 26-year-old settled a patchy match with a typical moment of skill in the middle through the second half. He drifted into the left side of the penalty area and cut past two players before his deflected shot somewhat accidentally wrong-footed goalkeeper Alban Lafont.
The win kept PSG 12 points ahead of defending champion Monaco, which won at Angers 4-0 and moved up to second place.
Marseille, which drew at Saint-Etienne 2-2 on Friday, was 13 points back in third.
But, unfortunately, this was a largely bland PSG performance aside from Neymar. He has 19 goals in 18 league games since joining from Barcelona for a world record 222 million euros ($260 million).
Neymar had plenty of spare cash to throw a mega-party last Sunday to celebrate turning 26. To a Paris club, he invited 300 guests including his teammates, his coach, his club president and 50 keen partygoers from Brazil.
As a result, coach Unai Emery gave Neymar a rest on a chilly Tuesday when PSG played at Sochaux; and it proved a judicious move as the silky Neymar looked in fine form. He almost added a second goal late on with a brilliant curling shot from 25 meters which bounced off the crossbar.
PSG needs Neymar like this. The club plays Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, in the first leg of the last 16. PSG has a big point to prove after being humiliated 6-1 by Barcelona at the same stage last year – with Neymar PSG’s chief tormentor that night.