PARIS (AP)Kylian Mbappe scored twice and Lionel Messi got the other goal as the World Cup final stars combined to give French league leader Paris Saint-Germain a 3-0 win at title challenger Marseille.
Mbappe tops the league’s scoring charts outright with 17 goals, and he matched Edinson Cavani’s PSG club-record tally of 200 in the process on Sunday.
What better place to do it than at bitter rival Marseille, where PSG lost in the French Cup earlier this month without the injured Mbappe in the team? This time, PSG was without the injured Neymar but didn’t miss the Brazil star.
A win would have moved second-place Marseille within two points of defending champion PSG. Instead, Marseille trails by eight points with only 13 rounds remaining.
”Everyone put in the right effort,” PSG coach Christophe Galtier said.
Galtier is from Marseille and played for the club as a gritty defender, which means some Marseille fans are simply unable to understand why he is coaching PSG.
Galtier had to be restrained after the final whistle as he went over to confront an irate Marseille fan leaning over and heckling him near the dugout.
Mbappe became only the second player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final when France lost on penalty kicks to Argentina last December, with an inspirational Messi netting twice in a thrilling final.
This time they combined on each other’s goals to quieten a Stade Velodrome crowd full of belief after the recent cup win against a PSG side reeling from five defeats in its 12 previous games.
But after Nuno Tavares missed a great chance for Marseille, an exquisite pass from Messi near the halfway line sent Mbappe sprinting through for a typically clinical finish in the 25th minute.
”He’s a player from another planet,” Marseille coach Igor Tudor said about Mbappe.
Four minutes later Mbappe found space down the left and picked out Messi – who saved PSG with an injury-time free kick in a 4-3 win against Lille last weekend – for a close-range finish.
Having scored his 12th league goal, Messi set up Mbappe again with a looping pass in the 55th, moments after veteran striker Alexis Sanchez missed a great chance to pull a goal back for Marseille.
The only negative for PSG on an emphatic night was losing central defender Presnel Kimpembe to injury in the 18th. He was stretchered off after falling unchallenged to the ground and lying on his face for several moments, although the nature of his injury was not immediately clear.
Defeat means Marseille is now only two points ahead of third-place Monaco and fourth-place Lens, which both have 50 points.
It could have been worse for Marseille had Monaco not lost 3-0 at home to Nice earlier Sunday in the Riviera derby.
Nigeria striker Terem Moffi scored twice in the first 25 minutes and midfielder Khephren Thuram – son of France great Lilian Thuram – added the third just before halftime as Nice climbed to seventh spot.
Fifth-place Rennes won 1-0 at Nantes with a goal from Belgium winger Jeremy Doku, and Reims easily beat Toulouse 3-0 in a midtable scrap.
Relegation-threatened Auxerre won 1-0 at Lorient while fellow struggler Ajaccio enjoyed a 2-1 home win against 19th-place Troyes.
Also, Clermont drew 1-1 at home to Strasbourg.
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