Neymar scores again as French leader PSG wins at Lille 3-0

PSG's Giovani Lo Celso, left and Lille's Junior Alonso challenge for the ball, during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Lille at the Lille Metropole stadium, in Villeneuve d'Ascq, northern France, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery says Neymar will celebrate his 26th birthday on Monday by inviting the whole squad to his dinner party

PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery says Neymar will celebrate his 26th birthday on Monday by inviting the whole squad to his dinner party.

The Brazilian should be in a great mood after scoring his 18th league goal on Saturday, helping French leader PSG win at Lille 3-0 to stay 11 points clear of second-place Marseille.

He's only three goals behind PSG teammate Edinson Cavani, the league top scorer, and catching him fast.

Neymar's first season with PSG is going better than perhaps even he expected, given that he has 27 in 26 games overall since joining from Barcelona for a world record 222 million euros ($260 million).

His free kick made it 2-0 to PSG but also 10 goals in the past seven games, during which he's also chipped in with five assists.

Emery expects Neymar to show similar generosity on Monday, when four-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and Brazilian President Michel Temer are reportedly going to be among his dinner guests.

"I know he's dining with his friends, teammates and the people he wants. I think we're all invited," Emery said, gently reminding his players not to get too carried away seeing as they have a French Cup game at Sochaux on Tuesday. "The most important thing is training on Sunday morning and on Monday afternoon, and the game on Tuesday."

Left back Yuri Berchiche put PSG ahead on the stroke of halftime, Neymar scored in the 78th minute, and midfielder Giovani Lo Celso completed a comfortable win late.

Neymar was involved in the opening goal, too.

He whipped a cross for Cavani, and defender Junior Alonso went to contest the ball with Cavani near the penalty spot. But Alonso inadvertently knocked it into the path of Berchiche, who struck home a low shot for his second goal of the season.

Neymar caressed his free kick into the top left corner, via the post, and Lo Celso grabbed his first for PSG with a super chipped effort from the left of the penalty area into the right corner.

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NO BALOTELLI, NO GOOD

Nice struggled without top scorer Mario Balotelli up front and lost at home to Toulouse 1-0 to drop to seventh place behind Montpellier, which moved into sixth after beating Angers 2-1.

Right back Mathieu Debuchy scored on his debut for Saint-Etienne after joining from Arsenal, and winger Remy Cabella added the other as the mid-table side defeated Amiens 2-0.

Gus Poyet won his second straight match since taking charge of Bordeaux, 2-0 at Strasbourg.

In Sunday's games, third-place Lyon, which is three points behind Marseille, travels to fourth-place Monaco.

Rennes hosts Guingamp, and Nantes travels to Caen.

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