Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a straightforward 3-1 victory at Metz on Saturday to put the pressure back on Lille in the Ligue 1 title race.
By no means were Mauricio Pochettino’s side outstanding as a collective at Stade Saint-Symphorien, but Mbappe was, the France striker deadly in front of goal as he took his league tally to 25 for the campaign.
Mbappe’s first arrived early on as PSG initially appeared in the mood, though they faded somewhat and failed to build on that goal despite Metz offering precious little themselves.
At least, that was the case until the break. Metz levelled just 49 seconds into the second half thanks to Fabien Centonze as PSG looked in danger of dropping points for the third time in six games, but Mbappe’s deflected effort just before the hour restored the Parisians’ lead and a late Mauro Icardi penalty ensured there was no collapse from the defending champions, who go two points clear of Lille.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) April 24, 2021
PSG looked bright at the start as they took the lead after just four minutes, Mbappe racing on to Ander Herrera’s pass over the Metz defence and volleying in off the post after bringing the ball under control with his chest.
Though that was hardly a prelude to unrelenting PSG pressure as they did not carve out another clear chance for another 22 minutes, with Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja this time able to deny Mbappe.
The visitors then felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty late in the half as the lively Mbappe went down right on the edge of the area, though replays suggested there was minimal contact.
It was 1-1 quickly after the restart, as Centonze turned in Farid Boulaya’s cross in what was a rare moment of attacking intent from the home side.
Parity did not remain for long, however, as Mbappe received the ball just outside the Metz area in the 59th minute and his rasping drive took a slight deflection to take it out of Oukidja’s reach.
It looked like dominant PSG might not increase their lead in the latter stages, with Mbappe denied a hat-trick by a remarkable goalline clearance from Boulaya and Herrera smashing against the crossbar.
But Dylan Bronn’s clumsy foul on substitute Icardi in the box led to a penalty, which the Argentinian converted with a cheeky ‘Panenka’ as PSG return to the summit at least until Sunday.
What does it mean? All eyes on Lille as PSG avoid shock ahead of pivotal week
Given how often PSG have dropped points this season, few would have claimed this was a foregone conclusion beforehand, even with Metz’s shoddy form in recent weeks.
With that said, PSG’s display was professional if not exceptional and it got the job done. Lille go to Lyon on Sunday needing to win to end the weekend as leaders, but an OL side still chasing Champions League qualification will not make it easy.
PSG can now look forward to their date with Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek having not increased the heat on themselves, though a late knock to Mbappe will be a cause for concern.
Neymar provides the spark
While Mbappe takes the headlines with his brace, Neymar certainly warrants a mention. The Brazilian may not have been particular accurate in front of goal, with none of his four shots accurate, but he made five key passes in his 81 minutes on the pitch.
A day to forget for Bronn
Granted, there were few Metz players bar Boulaya who impressed, but Bronn will be particularly frustrated with himself. His foul to concede the penalty was brainless, as he recklessly swung his back leg out and caught Icardi. That killed the game off.
Key Opta facts
– Metz are winless in their previous seven Ligue 1 games (D2 L5), their longest such run in the top-flight since December 2019 (nine).
– PSG have won their last six away Ligue 1 games, the best current run in the division and their best such run since November 2019-February 2020 (also six).
– No other player has been involved in more away goals than PSG’s Mbappe (19 – 15 goals, four assists) in the top five European leagues this season.
– Mbappe has scored at least two or more goals eight times in a Ligue 1 game this season, only Erling Haaland (10) and Robert Lewandowski (nine) did better in the top five European leagues in 2020-21.
– Only Lionel Messi (six) has scored more goals from outside the box than Mbappe (three) in the top five European leagues in 2021.
PSG turn their attention to the Champions League now, with City visiting for the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday before hosting Lens in Ligue 1 three days later. Metz go to Dijon next Sunday.
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