Paris Saint-Germain began a season-defining three-game stretch by beating Ligue 1 leaders Lille 3-0 to continue their Coupe de France defence.
PSG have successfully negotiated a Champions League tie with Barcelona but have work to do either side of this month’s international break to maintain their domestic challenge.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men, second in the league, visit third-placed Lyon on Sunday and then host Lille at the start of April, but they first took care of the pace-setters in the cup on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals.
Mauro Icardi had the holders in front before hobbling off and Kylian Mbappe, on in his place, made sure of PSG’s progress with a brace either side of Keylor Navas’ latest penalty save.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) March 17, 2021
Yusuf Yazici was the man denied, frustrated just as strike partner Burak Yilmaz had been when he passed up the game’s first big chance, firing too close to Navas.
The goalkeeper was rather more impressive in his work than opposite number Mike Maignan, who soon gifted PSG the lead after Tiago Djalo failed to cut out Angel Di Maria’s right-wing cross on nine minutes. Maignan fumbled and teed up Icardi for a simple finish in front of the goal line.
Yilmaz was unfortunate not to have Lille back on level terms as a left-footed prod bounced agonisingly away off the crossbar, while PSG lost Icardi to a knock.
But the hosts could call instead on Mbappe, his rare rest cut short as he earned a trip from Djalo before emphatically dispatching the resulting penalty.
Navas confidently fielded a second-half drive from Jonathan David and saved again from Jonathan Bamba. He saved his best for last and expertly parried Yazici’s penalty to safety after Layvin Kurzawa was deemed to have handled.
That stop provided the platform for Mbappe’s final flourish, tearing away from the Lille defence and lobbing Maignan.
What does it mean? Time for holders to hit their stride
PSG needed this week to pan out better than the last. They got past Barcelona only after a tense 45 minutes in which their old foes teased the idea of another remarkable comeback. Then defeat to Nantes gave Lille a three-point advantage at the summit.
This was a clinical display but relied on Lille’s errors as the Parisians converted three of only 11 shots. Their opponents failed with all 18 of theirs. While only the result matters in the cup, Pochettino will hope for more from his side on Sunday.
Hero Navas not to be beaten
The second leg against Barca turned on a Navas penalty save from Lionel Messi, halting the visitors’ momentum heading into half-time. His heroics came later this time but had a similar effect.
Having already made four saves, his fifth and best repelled a firmly struck Yazici spot-kick 12 minutes from time. Only Rui Silva and Oliver Baumann (both four) have kept out more penalties than Navas (three) in all competitions this season among goalkeepers across Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues.
Centre-back sets up all three
Maignan’s poor handling might have seen Djalo escape blame for the opener had he not then felled Mbappe in the area for a penalty that gave PSG complete control.
And not content with handing the hosts two goals, Djalo was brushed aside by Mbappe for number three in the final seconds. Two clearances, an interception and a block could not atone for his errors.
By the time PSG visit Lyon on Sunday, Lille could be six points clear having hosted Nimes earlier the same day.
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