Kylian Mbappe scored a brace and set up a superb third for Paris St-Germain as they recovered from a goal down to beat Saint Etienne.
It was a typical sluggish start from the Parisians and Les Verts were worthy of their lead when Denis Bouanga took advantage of Danilo Pereira’s slip-up and drove home leaving Gianluigi Donnarumma with no chance.
Two perfect Lionel Messi through-balls set up Kylian Mbappe to score a few minutes either side of half-time, the second involving the Argentine genius drawing five defenders before slipping in the French ace to slam home in trademark fashion.
Mbappe then helped put the game beyond doubt when he crossed stylishly with the outside of his boot from the left flank for Danilo climbing at the back post to head home.
The win leaves PSG 14 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 and Saint Etienne just two points from safety.
We have to enjoy it while it lasts – It still takes a leap of faith to believe Paris St-Germain can win the Champions League but how fun they are they to watch. Rarely has the best player in the world played with his predecessor in the same line-up. Perhaps Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo or Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas did during different Galactico eras at Real Madrid but there can’t be many more examples.
To see Lionel Messi and Kyian Mbappe link up is a joy and they seem to have as much fun with it as the audience. At times it is too contrived and a bit playground-y, but for the combination for the French international’s two goals tonight it was as perfect as football can be.
The human highlight reel that is Mbappe then produced another magical moment in his assist for the third goal as if to emphasise he is now the man. The number of games they have left to play in together may barely total double figures – and we should cherish each one.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kylian Mbappe (PSG) – You do run out of superlatives for his ability. With ten in as many games for PSG he is scoring at the rate Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo normalised for a decade. As well as being quicker than both, he may be a better finisher. His unstoppable low drive with the instep for his second goal is the type he seems to produce in every game. His second goal drew him level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG’s second-leading scorer, behind Edison Cavani. When he leaves the club as a 23-year-old it will surely be as the best to have graced the blue shirt.
PSG: Donnarumma 7, Kehrer 6, Marquinhos 6, Kimpembe 7, Nuno Mendes 7; Danilo 6, Gueye 6, Wijnaldum 7; Mbappe 9*, Messi 8, Neymar 7. Subs: Bernat 6, Di Maria 7, Icardi 6, Draxler 6.
Saint Etienne: Bernardoni 7; Sacko 6, Mangala 6, Nade 5, Camara 7, Kolodziejczak 5; Nordin 7, Gourna-Douath 5 Youssouf 6, Bouanga 7; Boudebouz 6. Subs: Thioub 6, Moueffek 6, Moukoudi 6, Aouchiche 6.
16′ GOAL FOR ST ETIENNE! It’s been coming. An error from Danilo saw Bouanga drive into the box and then blast low and hard past Donnarumma.
42′ GOAL FOR PSG! Mbappe scores. Bernadoni was behind it but with the force of Mbappe’s shot he could not keep it out. A perfectly-weighted pass from Messi set up the French striker for his ninth goal in ten games for the club.
47′ WONDERFUL GOAL FOR PSG! Mbappe laid the ball back to Messi on the edge of the box and he beat two defenders, drawing five players to him before slipping a ball through to the onrushing striker who slammed home for his second of the night.
52′ GOAL FOR PSG! What a cross! This is champagne stuff. Mbappe with a fantastic cross with the outside of his right foot fromthe left flank which was met by Danilo rising high at that back post to head home.
74′ Messi had to score! Neymar pulled back to him in the area but Messi scuffed his shot wide with his left foot with us all expecting the net to be bulging inside the far post.
79′ Neymar off the post! A lovely move involving Neymar, Messi and Wijnaldum ended with the Dutchman squaring for the Brazilian but though his strike beat Bernadoni it came back off the post.
90+3′ Wijnaldum off the post! Di Maria tees up the Dutchman whose shot is deflected against the post.