Kylian Mbappe scored twice with Lionel Messi’s assists as an impressive Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to beat Saint-Etienne 3-1 and extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 on Saturday.
Denis Bouanga put the struggling visitors up front in the Parc des Princes, but Mbappé equalized just before half-time and the French striker struck again just after the restart.
He then saw Danilo Pereira lead in the hosts’ third goal as Mauricio Pochettino’s team bounced back after a 3-1 defeat at Nantes last weekend and were 16 points away from Nice and Marseille as they headed for the French title.
PSG trailed three goals against Nantes at halftime and they were penalized for a slow start here, with Gabon international Bouanga plunging into a Pereira error to blast past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Still, the home side eventually came alive and Mbappe continued his excellent recent form, with his brace taking him to 24 goals in all competitions this season.
Mbappe has now scored 156 goals in a PSG shirt, equaling Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s number from his four-year spell in Paris between 2012 and 2016.
Only Edinson Cavani, with 200, has scored more goals for the club.
“It is not easy to describe his achievements. He is incredible. I am proud of him,” said Pochettino.
Mbappé was pulled out late to a standing ovation at the Parc des Princes, where supporters kept warm on a bitterly cold night by performing a Mexican wave as their team turned on the style.
The World Cup-winning attacker will now be suspended and will thus miss next weekend’s trip to Nice, which will be followed on March 9 by the second leg of PSG’s last 16 Champions League game against Real Madrid in Spain.
There, Paris defends the 1-0 advantage given them by Mbappe’s goal in the first leg.
Here he scored the equalizing goal three minutes before half time, grabbed Messi’s excellent pass and fired a shot that should have saved Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni.
Messi then produced another great pass for Mbappe to fire emphatically within two minutes of the restart to put the home side ahead.
“He is magnificent. The only thing missing today was a goal,” Pochettinto told Canal Plus about Messi’s influence.
“We are gradually playing better and better.”
The third goal came in the 52nd minute when Mbappe delivered a superb cross with the outside of his right boot for Portuguese midfielder Pereira to head in, and PSG came close to extending the lead several times.
Angel Di Maria, as a substitute, hit the post straight from a corner, while the lively Neymar and Georginio Wijnaldum also fired late into the woodwork.
Saint-Etienne remains just one point above the relegation zone before their rivals at the foot of the table all play on Sunday.
Earlier, Nice jumped on goal difference Marseille to second place with a 0-0 draw at Strasbourg, which is in fifth place.
Rennes is fourth above them in goal difference after winning 4-2 at Montpellier on Friday.
Marseille will face Troyes on Sunday as Lyon face Lille, who lost 2-0 to Chelsea in the Champions League mid-week.