Montpellier handed PSG a stiff test but, led by two-goal Kylian Mbappé, the capital club showed the quality - and got some good fortune - to run out 5-1 winners in their rescheduled Week 17 clash in Paris on Wednesday.
Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Paris Saint-Germain 5 - 1 Montpellier Hérault SC
Although the final scoreline was a heavy one, Montpellier more than mixed it with PSG for a long stretch in this match. After Layvin Kurzawa marked his return to the starting line-up with a coolly headed opener (15', 1-0), Montpellier hit back smartly with a stunning free-kick from Florent Mollet. Although Gianluigi Buffon parried, goal-line technology ruled that the ball had crossed the line and it was game on (31', 1-1).
Paris were without a host of big names - Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva to name a few - and coach Thomas Tuchel had been tipped to rest even more, but Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria ended up starting. A very fine thing for Paris, too , when the Argentine maestro put his side back in the lead just before the break with a free-kick that almost took the roof off Benjamin Lecomte's goal - even after crashing in off the underside of the cross-bar (45+1', 2-1).
PSG put their foot down
When the sides returned after the break, Montpellier captain Vitorino Hilton drew a stunning save from fellow veteran Buffon (58'), but that was the last clear-cut chance for the visitors as Paris put their foot down and drove forward. Kylian Mbappé (69') and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting (71') both had efforts ruled out for off-side but the pressure paid off for Paris as first Petar Skuletic (73', o.g., 3-1) and Hilton (78', o.g., 4-1) were forced into own-goals by Christopher Nkunku and Mbappé respectively.
Ligue 1 Conforama top scorer Mbappé wasn't about to go home empty handed, however, and the France youngster got his goal - thanks to a generous deflection from the hapless Hilton that hit the ground and bounced in over an equally hapless Lecomte (79', 5-1). The big win sees Paris Saint-Germain stretch their lead atop the standings out to 15 points, while Montpellier remain sixth.
THE PLAYER: Angel Di Maria
The Argentine often gets overlooked when people discuss Paris Saint-Germain's 'MCN' - Mbappé, Cavani and Neymar - but his remarkable free-kick showed that he is every bit as much the world-world-class player that the club's highly touted triumvirate are. Mollet's unbeatable leveller had put the brakes on the home side but Di Maria's quality - and power! - under pressure got the capital club back well and truly on the front foot before they ran away with it.
THE STAT: 2
Although Montpellier lost by four goals, they were only out-shot by Paris by two - nine to seven. This discrepancy was due doubtless to some keen 'keeping from Gianluigi Buffon and a laser-guided effort from Di Maria, but also to some very poor fortune as the visitors were pressured into two own-goals and saw one seemingly winning effort from scorer Florent Mollet come back off the woodwork.