Ligue 1: Kylian Mbappe's 100th PSG goal helps club beat Montpellier; Rennes lose again as poor form continues
With the win, PSG moved four points ahead of second-place Marseille, and five ahead of third-place Lille.
Striker Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to score his 100th goal for Paris Saint-Germain as the French league leader secured a hard-fought 3-1 win at Montpellier on Saturday.
Mbappe's century of PSG goals — in 137 games — was completed when the 21-year-old turned in a cross from Layvin Kurzawa from close range in the 90th minute.
Up until then, it was uncertain for PSG after English striker Stephy Mavididi equalized for Montpellier in the 40th and the home side pushed strongly for a winner after the break.
PSG striker Moise Kean broke away and netted with a fine finish in the 76th to put the visitors ahead. Mbappe then stroked the ball home from Kurzawa's quick pass to embellish a win which moves PSG four points ahead of second-place Marseille, and five ahead of third-place Lille.
Marseille have played two games fewer than PSG, while Lille can remain two points behind PSG with a home win against Monaco on Sunday.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel rested Neymar and Marco Verratti ahead of their Champions League game against Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday. But Montpellier’s best striker Andy Delort was also missing, having tested positive for the coronavirus .
It deprived Montpellier of a player who has six goals, assisted on three and has formed a strong partnership with Gaetan Laborde. It also spared a shaky PSG defense, which has conceded five goals in two games, from coping against one of the league’s most physical and awkward strikers.
Tuchel's gamble to rest his best forwards worked.
In Saturday's other game, Rennes lost 2-0 at home to Lens, which climbed to seventh place while Rennes dropped to eighth and have won just one game in their last 13 overall.
Lens took the lead in the 27th minute through 18-year-old forward Arnaud Kalimuendo, who joined from PSG in the recent transfer window and netted his third goal of the season.
He went close early in the second half when his shot was saved by the foot of goalkeeper Romain Salin. Striker Ignatius Ganago returned from injury and grabbed the second goal late on.
In the pick of Sunday's matches, Lille's lunchtime kickoff frustrated coach Christophe Galtier considering his side played in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Former champion Lyon look to make it 10 games unbeaten when they visits Metz.
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Manchester City look to reach the League Cup final for the fifth time in the last six years by beating fierce rival Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Trophee des Champions: Neymar set to return for PSG against Marseille in 'special game' for Mauricio Pochettino
Neymar has not played since being stretchered off with an ankle injury at the end of PSG's Ligue 1 defeat to Lyon on 13 December.
Neymar's return is good news for PSG, who have been dealing with a string of injuries recently and trail league leaders Lyon by one point after 19 games.