Substitute Kylian Mbappe was the saviour for Paris Saint-Germain as they left it late to beat a stubborn Nice side 2-1.
The France international wasn’t fit enough to start, but with the game not going to plan for Christophe Galtier’s side, he was introduced just shy of the hour-mark. The manager’s decision was rewarded when he bagged a winner seven minutes from time.
Lionel Messi’s sublime free-kick from the edge of the penalty area had given PSG lift-off in the 29th minute, a curling effort that left Kasper Schmeichel rooted to the spot.
At that stage, it seemed like PSG would coast to victory, such was their dominance. Neymar fired a free-kick over the bar while Messi stung the gloves of Schmeichel as the chances kept coming for the hosts, but they only had a goal to show for it at half-time.
And then the complexion of the game drastically changed. Having offered next to nothing in attack, Nice struck a leveller with their first shot on target, Gaetan Laborte capitalising on some slack defending to bury a chance from point-blank range.
Seemingly shell-shocked, PSG failed to really get going again and it appeared the hosts were going to drop points for just the second time this season.
But Mbappe, as he so often does, stepped up when it mattered to sweep home Nordi Mukiele’s pull-back to seal the win in the 83rd-minute.
The victory sees PSG leapfrog Marseille to take top spot by two points, while Nice remain 13th.
TALKING POINT – PSG PRODUCE A JEYKLL AND HYDE PERFORMANCE
The first half was a masterclass from Galtier’s side, with Messi playing close to his brilliant best and at the heart of everything. It seemed to be a question of how many goals they would beat an out-of-sorts Nice by.
The second half was anything but. Did they allow complacency to creep in? They just never started and were left red faced when they conceded within two minutes of the restart. But when you have the option of bringing on a player like Mbappe off the bench, you’re always likely to win the game.
Credit to Nice for their stirring performance. Lucien Favre is under pressure with five losses in his last seven games, but the players are clearly still fighting for him.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – LIONEL MESSI (PSG)
Although he failed to exert his influence as frequently in the second half, Messi takes the award for a sensational performance in the opening 45 minutes.
He pulled the strings in an almost flawless showing, dancing past defenders as if they weren’t there and playing a number of passes that carved open the Nice backline. Capped, of course, with a fantastic free-kick.
PSG: Donnarumma 6, Mukiele 7, Marquinhos 6, Ramos 6, Hakimi 6, Vitinha 6, Ruiz 6, Bernat 7, Messi 8*, Ekitike 6, Neymar 7.. subs: Navas, Mendes 6, Pereira N/A, Sanches 5, Mbappe 8, Sarabia N/A.
Nice: Schmeichel 7, Bard 7, Dante 6, Viti 5, Atal 6, Lemina 6, Rosario 6, Diop 6, Ramsey 5, Barkley 5, Laborde 7.. subs: Pepe 5, Lotomba 5, Thuram 6, Beka Beka 5, Delort N/A.
29’ – GOAL! PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 1-0 NICE (LIONEL MESSI): Ah, that’s majestic! Messi steps up to take the free-kick he won on the edge of the box and wow, he curls it into the top corner. Schmeichel didn’t move! It’s his fifth league goal of the season so far.
47’ – GOAL! PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 1-1 NICE (GAETAN LABORDE) My, oh my, Nice are level! Who saw this coming?! It’s a simple cross sent into the box by Atal from the flank that PSG fail to deal with and Laborde is in the right place to slot it home from point-blank range. It’s the visitors’ first attempt at goal!
83′ – GOAL! PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 2-1 NICE (KYLIAN MBAPPE): Mbappe to the rescue! Relatively fresh off the bench, the Frenchman is left unmarked to sweep home Mukiele’s pull-back. It seems Nice’s fine second half performance is going to be in vain.