Mbappé and Neymar inspire PSG rally at Montpellier
Kylian Mbappé, Neymar Jr and Mauro Icardi all found the net as Paris Saint-Germain produced a late flurry of goals to beat Montpellier Hérault SC 3-1 on Saturday and stretch their lead at the top to eight points.
Montpellier Hérault SC 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain
Olympique de Marseille were within two points of PSG ahead of the league leaders' game at home to FC Nantes on Wednesday. One-hundred-and-eighty minutes of top-flight football and two wins later, and Andre Villas-Boas' men head into Sunday's testing encounter with Girondins de Bordeaux trying to not lose sight of the champions over the horizon.
PSG had failed to win any of their last three visits to the Stade de la Mosson, and with Marquinhos out of the side for personal reasons and Edinson Cavani a late withdrawal, the hosts must have been hopeful they could continue that run and their push — bolstered by an unbeaten six-game run — for a top-three place.
Those ambitions were furthered when Thomas Tuchel was forced into an early reshuffle with the injured Presnel Kimpembé exchanged for Abdou Diallo (19'), but a Neymar free-kick that Geronimo Rulli only just managed to push out (30') reminded the hosts of the quality in the visitors' ranks.
Montpellier only rarely ventured forward, but four minutes before the break they got lucky. Daniel Congré got his head to a corner and sent the ball careering towards Leandro Paredes, and the Argentina international could do nothing as it ricocheted off his hand and into the net (41'). It was the first goal PSG had conceded from a set-piece this season.
With Montpellier pressing effectively, PSG were looking at a fourth defeat of the season; a first at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 2009/10 and before QSI's takeover of the club. But a challenge by Pedro Mendes on Neymar, who was through on goal, changed everything (73').
As the Montpellier defender headed off for an early bath following an inevitable red card, Neymar bent the resulting free-kick beyond Rulli to add to his strike against Nantes (74'). Mbappé had also scored in midweek, and found the net again with a low shot after being teed up by his Brazilian teammate in only the second league game they have started together in 2019/20 (76').
The pair were also involved in the counter-attack that led to Icardi firing home the third that ended all home hopes of snatching a point (81') as PSG threw down the gauntlet to their arch-rivals.
THE PLAYER: Neymar Jr.
The Brazilian superstar has come back with the bang after his injury lay-off. He now has six goals in just eight league appearances this season, and his understanding with Mbappé is improving all the time.
THE STAT: 6
Mbappé has been involved in six goals in his five league appearances against Montpellier, scoring four times himself.