Di Maria and Mbappe star as PSG win big again
Angel Di Maria scored a sumptuous free-kick and Kylian Mbappe was also on target as Paris Saint-Germain continued their relentless march towards another French title by hammering Montpellier 5-1 on Wednesday.
Layvin Kurzawa and Christopher Nkunku also scored for PSG at the Parc des Princes, while Montpellier captain Vitorino Hilton netted an own goal.
Florent Mollet had equalised at one point in the first half for the visitors before they crumbled in a rearranged fixture that had initially been postponed in early December due to disruption caused by “yellow vest” anti-government protests in France.
As they warm up for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Manchester United on March 6, PSG are now a huge 15 points clear of second-placed Lille, and still have a game in hand as they race to a sixth Ligue 1 title in seven seasons.
Coach Thomas Tuchel was without a host of players for this game, with the injured Neymar and Edinson Cavani joined on the sidelines by skipper Thiago Silva, who was suspended.
French international left-back Kurzawa was making his first start in the league in an injury-hit season and he opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a header from a Daniel Alves cross.
However, Montpellier recovered well from that and claimed a deserved leveller just after the half-hour mark from a Mollet free-kick. Gianluigi Buffon thought he had kept it out, but goal-line technology confirmed the ball had just crossed the line.
Nevertheless, Di Maria restored PSG’s lead in first-half stoppage time with a stunning free-kick from 30 yards that went in off the underside of the bar for his sixth league goal of the season.
PSG then ran away with the game in the closing stages, although only after both Mbappe and substitute Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting had efforts disallowed for offside.
Nkunku, the 21-year-old making a rare start, headed home in the 73rd minute after the ball fell to him following a corner, and Mbappe then took centre stage.
The young World Cup winner turned in a Kurzawa centre in the 78th minute, but the goal was attributed to Montpellier’s 41-year-old defender Hilton.
From the restart, PSG won possession back and Mbappe beat Montpellier goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte with the aid of a huge deflection off Hilton.
This time the goal was given to Mbappe, who now has 20 goals in 19 league appearances this season, and 25 in all competitions.
Montpellier remain sixth, while PSG now host Nimes on Saturday before a French Cup quarter-final against Dijon and then a visit to Caen, as their busy schedule continues before the visit of United.The other game in France on Wednesday saw bottom side Guingamp draw 0-0 at Bordeaux.