PARIS (AP) — A bizarre foul committed by the referee overshadowed Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win on Sunday at Nantes which moved the leaders 11 points clear at the top of the French league.
In a highly unusual end to the game, referee Tony Chapron sent off Nantes center half Diego Carlos in the last minute — although the official was the culprit.
"It's a joke ... Honestly, the whole of Europe is laughing here," Nantes president Waldemar Kita said after the game. "The player is on the receiving end and it's him who gets a (red) card. There's a problem here."
Carlos was running behind Chapron near the halfway line and trying to catch up with play when he inadvertently clipped the referee's heels as their paths crossed.
Chapron tumbled forward onto the turf and then, in what appeared to be a blatant act of retribution, swiped his right leg at Carlos.
An irate Chapron got up and brandished a second yellow card for Carlos, and looked flustered as he fumbled in his shirt pocket for the red.
"I know it's a difficult job to referee, but they must also have to ask questions of themselves," Nantes midfielder Valentin Rongier said on Canal Plus television. "If we do that, it goes before a (disciplinary) commission and we get 10 games (suspension)."
There is little suspense in the league with PSG dropping only seven points from a possible 60. Defending champion Monaco is in second place, level on points with Lyon, but neither seemingly has the caliber to pressure PSG by going on a lengthy winning run.
Even without playing its usual scintillating football, PSG was able to scrape past a lackluster Nantes side coached by Claudio Ranieri.
He guided Leicester City to the 2015-16 English Premier League title in one of the biggest upsets in soccer history, but Nantes remains in fifth place and does not seem to have enough flair to go higher.
Angel Di Maria scored in the 12th minute with the home defense slow to react.
Kylian Mbappe left striker Edinson Cavani's probing pass go through his legs and the unmarked Di Maria toe-poked the ball into the left corner. It was his third league goal of the season and followed his brace last Sunday in the French Cup.
PSG carved Nantes open with a swift counterattacking move late in the first half, but Di Maria blazed over an open goal after midfielder Adrien Rabiot set him up perfectly.
Nantes striker Emiliano Sala thought he had equalized in the 60th when he headed powerfully home from a free-kick but it was harshly ruled out for offside. There was no VAR to validate the goal, even though television replays showed Sala was level with Cavani when he made his run into the area.
"Sala ran in from behind and it's a valid goal," Ranieri said. "But that's football. We'll forget this game and think of the next one."
Cavani needed just one more goal to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's all-time leading scorer on 156. He could get the record at home to Dijon on Wednesday.
Lyon wasted a chance to move up to second place after being held 1-1 at home by relegation-threatened Angers.
Lyon equalizer through top scorer Nabil Fekir. But Angers was hanging on after having midfielder Flavien Tait sent off in the 84th minute.
Third-place Lyon is one point ahead of Marseille in fourth. Angers moved up to 18th — the relegation playoff spot.
Lyon fell behind to striker Karl Toko Ekambi's penalty kick in the 14th minute. He jogged up casually with a staggered run-up, and stroked the ball to the left as goalkeeper Anthony Lopes guessed the wrong way.
Two minutes after the break, Fekir opened up the defense with a superb piece of skill — dragging the ball back and then flicking it through the legs of a defender. The ball rolled toward forward Maxwell Cornet but Fekir sprinted alongside him and drilled it into the bottom corner.
It was Fekir's 14th league goal of the season in a career-best tally.
Saint-Etienne moved away from the relegation zone after beating fellow struggler Toulouse 2-0.
Slovenia striker Robert Beric scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot moments before halftime. Senegalese midfielder Assane Diousse got his first for the club when he sealed the win in the 86th minute.
Saint-Etienne moved up to 14th place. Toulouse is 19th and the pressure is increasing on coach Pascal Dupraz.
Jerome Pugmire is at www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire