Kylian Mbappé scored the only goal of the game as Paris Saint-Germain stretched their lead at the top of Ligue 1 Conforama to ten points with a 1-0 win over AS Saint-Etienne at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
AS Saint-Etienne 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Saint-Etienne's European aspirations have taken a dent in recent weeks, with Wednesday's 2-1 victory over RC Strasbourg Alsace their first win in five, but they started brightly against the runaway league leaders, with Kévin Monnet-Paquet forcing Alphonse Areola into a save at his near post early on (11'). PSG settled midway through the half, though, dominating possession and conjuring most of the best chances to score. Julian Draxler turned well before firing a shot high of Stéphane Ruffier's goal (19') before Mbappé stung the Sainté shot-stopper's gloves (21').
Leandro Paredes may only be three games into his PSG career, but when the champions earned a free-kick on the edge of the ASSE box just inside the half-hour it was the Argentine who stepped up to take it. His effort bounced back out to Dani Alves, who rushed his attempt to catch Ruffier off-balance and blazed high (29'). Angel Di Maria then intelligently dummied a pass to send Moussa Diaby clear down the left; the youngster crossed for Juan Bernat, but the former Bayern Munich man fired off target (34').
Mbappé breaks the deadlock
PSG's dominance carried into the second half, and Draxler had another big chance ten minutes after the restart, but once again Ruffier was up to the task, stopping the former World Cup winner from close range (55'). Thomas Tuchel brought Colin Dagba on for Bernat on the hour (60'), presumably resting the Spaniard for Wednesday's clash with European aspirants Montpellier Hérault SC, but the shape of the teams, and the match, remained the same. Di Maria broke into the Saint-Etienne box with a turn of pace, but the Argentine's subsequent shot flew wide of the far post (67').
PSG simply wouldn't be denied, though, and when Alves found Mbappé with a searching pass forward, there was only ever going to be one result, with the infinitely talented 20-year-old volleying home his 19th goal of the campaign (73'). Monnet-Paquet had another chance at the other end which flew over (84'), and PSG held on to seal a gard-fought 1-0 win.
THE PLAYER: Kylian Mbappé
With Neymar and Edinson Cavani both injured, the attacking burden has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Mbappé of late. Most often seen operating wide of a front three, the former AS Monaco man showed he had no problem leading the line - or indeed playing with a change of system - against Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday (a game in which he scored in a 2-0 win) and he built on that here with a stunning finish. ASSE defended admirably, but with Mbappé on the pitch, goals are sure to follow whether the bus has been parked or not.
THE STAT: 19
Mbappé is the first player in 45 years to score 19 goals in his first 18 games of a Ligue 1 Conforama campaign. Not one of them has been a penalty. His looks to be a once in a generation talent.