Two goals from Marco Verratti helped Paris Saint-Germain regain their 11-point advantage at the top of Ligue 1, after seeing off Reims 4-0 at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night.
PSG took the lead on the stroke of half-time when the ball fell into the path of Verratti and the Italian made no mistake from 12-yards – his first Ligue 1 goal since 2019.
Until Verratti’s opener, Reims had caused PSG some problems on the break with sought-after striker Hugo Ekitike proving particularly menacing for Sergio Ramos and Marquinhos. Any potential suitors tuning in to watch the 19-year-old would certainly have been impressed with his first-half display.
PSG started the second-half in better fashion, moving the ball quicker and finding pockets of space to further break down a resolute Reims back line.
The hosts persistence paid off when they extended their advantage through Sergio Ramos’ first goal for the club, reacting first to toe poke home from close range, just after the hour mark.
Lionel Messi was then introduced for the first time in 2022 after a bout of Covid-19 and shortly after the Argentine was thrown into the mix, Verratti incredibly added his second of the night and PSG’s third to all-but seal the points.
Kylian Mbappe was again at his scintillating best and he provided a neat assist for Danilo to add a fourth from the edge of the area, to cap off a successful evening for the leaders.
The result leaves PSG 11-points clear of OGC Nice while Reims remain in 14th position. Mauricio Pochettino’s men are in Coupe de France action next week but face an intriguing trip to reigning champions Lille in two weeks’ time.
TALKING POINT – MESSI’S RETURN
If the first-half was anything to go by, PSG looked as though they were once again going to win ugly – at best – against a dangerous and pacy Reims side. But the league leaders produced arguably their best-half of attacking football so far this term in the second period, coinciding with the return to action of Messi. Buoyed by the Argentine’s return, the Parisians looked far more threatening in attack and for Mbappe who has had to carry the weight of the team on his shoulders in the absences of Messi and Neymar, it will be a welcome relief to have the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner back on the pitch. Now is the time for the pair to strike up a deadly partnership in time for the return of the Champions League next month.
MAN OF THE MATCH – KYLIAN MBAPPE (PSG)
Where would PSG be without this man? Once again he was a colossus for Pochettino’s side and despite not getting on the score sheet, the 23-year-old forward was instrumental in PSG’s attacking play and rounded off his performance with a superb assist for Danilo’s goal. Mbappe came into the game with a groin niggle and was rightly withdrawn 13 minutes from time. A smart move from Pochettino who will need to manage the fitness of his talismanic forward with the Champions League clash with Real Madrid just over three weeks away.
Paris Saint-Germain: Navas 6, Kehrer 6, Ramos 6, Marquinhos 7, Nuno Mendes 7, Verratti 8, Danilo 7, Paredes 7, Di Maria 5, Mbappe 8, Icardi 6. Subs: Messi 7, Draxler n/a, Herrera n/a.
Reims: Rajkovic 6, Busi 5, Abdelhamid 6, Faes 6, Gravillon 5, Foket 5, Mbuku 5, Matusiwa 5, Cajust
44′ GOAL! PSG 1-0 REIMS(Verratti): Out of nowhere, the ball falls into the path of Marco Verratti and he fires in off the post from 12 yards – his first goal in Ligue 1 since 2017.
62′ GOAL! PSG 2-0 REIMS (Ramos): PSG extend their advantage through Sergio Ramos who toe-pokes over the line from close range. Excellent reaction from the former Real Madrid captain who opens his account for PSG.
64′ HE’S BACK! Messi makes his long-awaited return, replacing compatriot Angel Di Maria for PSG.
67′ GOAL! PSG 3-0 REIMS (Verratti): Verratti scores again! The Italian’s effort from the edge of the box takes a double deflection but the midfielder is claiming it. Two goals in one night for Verratti …London Buses.
75′ GOAL! PSG 4-0 REIMS (Danilo): Wonderful play from Mbappe who sets up Danilo, and his strike from the edge of the box deflects past Rajkovic to score PSG’s fourth.