Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were on the scoresheet once more as Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to see off a brave Troyes 4-2 at Parc des Princes.
Christophe Galtier’s side were at their brilliant best when they thrashed Maccabi Haifa 7-2 on Wednesday, but the Ligue 1 champions had to dig deep to get the better of Troyes.
Mama Balde gave the visitors a shock lead after just three minutes following a rapid counter-attack led by full-back Abdu Conte. His cross was pounced on by Rony Lopes, who fed Balde and he rifled a shot into the roof of the net, stunning Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It took a moment of magic from Neymar to level the scores, the Brazilian lifting a delicate pass into the path of Carlos Soler, who rounded goalkeeper Gauthier Gallon before slotting into an empty net.
Eight minutes after the restart, PSG were shaken once more. They only had themselves to blame as Balde was allowed too much time to swivel and fire a venomous shot into the bottom corner.
This time, however, Troyes’ lead only lasted a mere three minutes – thanks to the genius of Lionel Messi. With his side struggling, the Argentine took matters into his own hands by blasting an arrow past Gallon from 30 yards.
Goalscorer turned provider as Messi played a defence-splitting pass to release Neymar, who gave PSG the lead for the first time in the game in the 62nd-minute.
Mbappe looked like he had rubberstamped the victory from the penalty spot 13 minutes before time after Solar was taken out by Gallon, but an 88th-minute header from Ante Palaversa made PSG sweat for their victory but Galtier’s men held on to take all three points.
Unbeaten PSG – who have won all but two of their 13 games so far, drawing two – open up a five-point gap on second-placed Lens, while Troyes remain 11th.
TALKING POINT – PSG’S WINNING MENTALITY
No matter how poorly PSG play in Ligue 1 these days, they are still likely to win – even when they concede three goals. This is a game that may have resulted in dropped points under Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel before him, but Galtier has instilled a winning mentality at Parc des Princes and it clearly shows.
The character of this outrageously group of players has been questioned time after time. And yes, there remains a weakness as evidenced by how easily Troyes found the net on three occasions. But they have bought into Galtier’s philosophy and in turn the former Lille boss has found a system that brings out the best in Neymar, Messi and Mbappe.
Whether that brings Champions League success remains to be seen, but even at this early stage, PSG look certain to retain their domestic title.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – LIONEL MESSI (PSG)
Messi continued his red-hot form with another impressive display, scoring his 12th goal of the season with a rocket to draw PSG level from distance before claiming his 10th assist as the Parc des Princes side took the lead.
PSG: Donnarumma 6, Mukiele 6, Kimpembe 5, Ramos 6, Bernat 6, Vitinha 6, Verratti 6, Soler 7, Messi 8*, Mbappe 7, Neymar 8.. subs: Sanches N/A, Ruiz 6, Mendes N/A, Marquinhos 6, Sarabia N/A
Troyes: Gallon 6, Balde 5, Porozo 5, Palmer-Brown 5, Salmier 6, Conte 7, Lopes 6, Kouame 6, Chavalerin 5, Odobert 7, Balde 8.. subs: Ugbo N/A, Larouci 5, Dingome N/A, Ripart 5, Palaversa N/A.
3’ – GOAL! PSG 0-1 TROYES (MAMA BALDE): Would you believe it?! Troyes are ahead! A simple ball down the left finds the full-back Conte in acres of space. He delivers it into the middle, finding Lopes who manages to feed it to Blade and he lashes it into the top corner. What a start for the visitors!
24’ – GOAL! PSG 1-1 TROYES (CARLOS SOLER): PSG are level thanks to a moment of magic from Neymar! The Brazilian lifts a magnificent pass to find the perfectly-timed run of Soler, he rounds the onrushing goalkeeper and slides it into an empty net.
52’ – GOAL! PSG 1-2 TROYES (MAMA BALDE): Balde at the double! What a moment for the 26-year-old, but from a PSG point-of-view, it’s shocking defending. Odobert is allowed to carve inside off the flank and picks out Balde, unmarked, in the middle. The defenders simply stand off him, allowing Balde to swivel and fire a shot into the bottom corner.
55’ – GOAL! PSG 2-2 TROYES (LIONEL MESSI): Who else?! Messi drags PSG back level. It’s an arrow from distance, straight into the bottom far corner, leaving Gallon with no chance. Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands!
62’ – GOAL! PSG 3-2 TROYES (NEYMAR): PSG lead for the first time this evening! Messi picks the ball up in a deep position, looks up and plays a defence-splitting pass to release Neymar. He takes a touch to set himself before slotting it past Gallon.
77’- GOAL! PSG 4-2 TROYES (KYLIAN MABPPE, PEN): Mbappe hits his penalty kick hard and high into the net. An unstoppable effort that surely wins the game for PSG.
88’ – GOAL! PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 4-3 TROYES (ANTE PALAVERSA): Game on?! Troyes keep the game alive with a late goal! The PSG defence falls asleep again as they fail to clear from a corner. A ricochet shot drops invitingly for Palaversa and he makes contact with a stooped header.