Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi put poor Montpellier to the sword in a 4-0 Paris Saint-Germain win, their first since being confirmed as Ligue 1 champions.
Champions League failure this season had dampened PSG’s title celebrations even before three consecutive draws – the first of which secured top spot against Lens.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men lost the lead in all three matches, but there was never any danger of a repeat on Saturday.
Mbappe, whose future is perhaps of more interest than PSG’s results right now, was typically influential, scoring the fourth after having a hand in two goals for Messi and one for Angel Di Maria.
That front three quickly had Montpellier on the back foot, with just six minutes played when Mbappe’s square pass was dummied by Di Maria for Messi to aim a left-footed finish into the bottom-right corner.
Dimitry Bertaud had saved well from Messi moments before that goal and soon would again from Mbappe, but he was helpless in the face of an onslaught.
Mbappe’s sublime outside-of-the-boot pass set Messi away to round the goalkeeper and score the second, before the pair attempted to link up a third time and Di Maria netted instead – his volley deflected beyond Bertaud after Mbappe’s cross was headed only half-clear.
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Mbappe hit the post from a Messi pass before the half-time whistle, which scarcely disrupted PSG’s rhythm.
A rare loose Mbappe touch only invited a clumsy challenge from Arnaud Souquet, allowing the forward to coolly convert from the penalty spot.
Mbappe was just offside before he laid on another goal for Di Maria, which was ruled out, and PSG finally slowed to Montpellier’s relief, settling for four.
What does it mean? Rare late-season success for champions
PSG’s form had fallen off a cliff since the Ligue 1 title was sealed, but that is nothing new for this team.
In fact, the capital club headed into this match having won just two of their past 11 games played when they had been confirmed as champions. Their most recent such victory had come against Dijon at the end of a successful 2018-19 season.
There are worse times to lose form, of course, but this long-awaited win should now at least briefly lift the mood at PSG – and perhaps show Mbappe how fun it could be to stick around alongside Messi.
Partnership finally prospers
Although Neymar was missing through suspension, the other two members of PSG’s star-studded front three finally showed off the sort of attacking combination play that was expected all along.
Mbappe has certainly not disappointed this season, having now posted a career-high 57 goal involvements, but this was a rare example of Messi matching his team-mate’s exploits.
Three of the four chances Messi created were for Mbappe, who in turn teed up four attempts and two goals for the former Barcelona man.
Now the nervous wait…
It was put to Pochettino on Friday that Mbappe might provide an update on his future on Sunday, at the UNFP Trophies ceremony where in 2019 he announced a desire to “have more responsibility”, prompting discussion he was unhappy at PSG.
There is no doubt Mbappe is the main man in Paris now, stealing the show even in a game in which Messi scored twice, but will that be enough to keep him at the club?
Beyond that awards ceremony, where Pochettino insists he is not expecting any news, PSG have one game remaining at home to Metz next Saturday. Montpellier visit Angers.