Mbappe sparks PSG win over Marseille, but Lille top in France
Kylian Mbappe set Paris Saint-Germain on the way to a 2-0 win over troubled Marseille on Sunday, keeping the reigning champions within three points of Ligue 1 leaders Lille who earlier recorded their sixth consecutive victory.
Mbappe burst through at incredible pace to give PSG the lead on the counter-attack in the ninth minute at the Velodrome, with Mauro Icardi adding a second for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
The victory was achieved despite Neymar — who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday — only appearing as a substitute having missed training with a stomach bug.
PSG stay third, a point behind Lyon and three adrift of Lille, who won 2-0 at Nantes.
Marseille finished with 10 men after Dimitri Payet’s late sending-off, and are down in ninth having won just once in 11 games.
The Parisians go to Barcelona in the Champions League on February 16 but Mbappe insisted their thoughts remained on domestic matters as the first play in the French Cup in midweek and then host Nice next weekend.
“In previous years we might have been able to concentrate more on the Champions League but this year we really need to stay focused on the league because we are trailing,” the World Cup winner told broadcaster Canal Plus.
“But maybe that’s not a bad thing because we are forced to play with intensity in every game and that can mean that you’re not taken by surprise when it comes to the Champions League.”
‘Le Classique’ is the biggest fixture in French football, and the build-up to the 100th meeting of Marseille and PSG had been dominated by recent events in the Mediterranean city.
Marseille’s game last weekend against Rennes was postponed after several hundred supporters attacked the club’s training ground, and three days later coach Andre Villas-Boas was suspended by the club after declaring at a press conference he wanted to resign.
Nasser Larguet, the head of Marseille’s youth academy, took charge for Wednesday’s draw at Lens and was again on the bench against PSG.
The last league meeting of the teams in September was won 1-0 by Marseille but was marred by five late red cards, including for Neymar. The Brazilian later accused Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez of racism, although no action was taken due to a lack of evidence.
– Stunning sprint –
Ligue 1 top scorer Mbappe sprinted onto Angel di Maria’s pass to control and fire past Steve Mandanda for the opener, his 16th of the season. Canal Plus clocked Mbappe’s stunning sprint at 36 kilometres per hour.
Di Maria then hobbled off injured, before Icardi made it 2-0 midway through the first half.
Icardi got in front of Alvaro to meet Alessandro Florenzi’s cross, the ball coming off the back of his neck and looping into the net.
Icardi was replaced by Neymar midway through the second half, with the Brazilian immediately becoming involved in a flashpoint with Alvaro.
The Spaniard was lucky only to concede a corner rather than a penalty as he tried to stop the world’s most expensive player, but Alvaro did jar his knee in the process and came off soon after.
The home side then had Payet dismissed for a high boot on Marco Verratti.
– David double for Lille –
Canada’s Jonathan David continued his recent scoring streak with a brace as Lille saw off Nantes to reclaim top spot from Lyon, who beat Strasbourg 3-0 on Saturday.
David has five goals in as many games after pouncing on a defensive mix-up to put Lille in front early on and then scoring a fantastic second seven minutes from time following a one-two with Renato Sanches.
“We are on a magnificent run but nobody is pulling away because everyone is winning,” said Lille coach Christophe Galtier.
Struggling Nantes have gone 15 matches without a win, including seven games under Raymond Domenech, the former France coach who was appointed in December.
Earlier Aleksandr Golovin scored a hat-trick on his first start since August after the injury as fourth-placed Monaco defeated bottom club Nimes 4-3 to extend their winning run to seven matches. Golovin also set up Kevin Volland for Monaco’s fourth.