PARIS: Kylian Mbappe scored a goal in each half as Paris Saint-Germain beat 10-man Nantes 3-0 on Saturday to stay on top of the Ligue 1 table from Marseille, who beat Auxerre 2-0 with Alexis Sanchez on target.
Marseille had briefly gone to the summit with that win, but PSG responded in style later and are leaders thanks to their far superior goal difference, having scored 24 goals in just six league outings this season.
Mbappe joined Neymar at the top of the scorers’ charts on seven for the campaign thanks to his brace at the Stade de la Beaujoire, with his opener coming in the 18th minute.
The France star curled a superb strike over goalkeeper Alban Lafont and into the net at the end of a breakaway after being set up by Lionel Messi.
Nantes had beaten PSG at home in this fixture last season but their hopes of taking anything from the reigning champions this time were seriously hampered when they had Brazilian full-back Fabio sent off midway through the first half.
The former Manchester United defender was shown a straight red card for a high challenge in midfield on Vitinha that forced the Portuguese player to come off hurt.
PSG scored again shortly after half-time as Messi set up Mbappe to finish at the near post, with the goal initially being disallowed for offside only to be awarded following a VAR check.
Rested at kick-off, Neymar came off the bench after that and played a part in the third goal in the 68th minute as his shot came back off the upright and Nuno Mendes followed up to finish.
PSG now turn their attentions to the Champions League and their opening group game at home to Juventus on Tuesday, when the in-form Neymar is sure to return to the starting line-up.
“There is always the risk that you can break a player’s dynamic if they are in good form but don’t accept being left out of the team,“ admitted PSG coach Christophe Galtier of his decision to bench the Brazilian.
“But I had a long discussion with him yesterday. I made my decision and he accepted it.”
Galtier, who said Vitinha had taken a heavy knock to his kneecap, insisted his team would still have to raise their game in the Champions League.
“We are on a good run. We are scoring goals and playing well. The players are playing for each other, but the Champions League is another level.
“I watched Juve this afternoon and this will be a different match. We cannot expect an easy game.”
– Sanchez on target –
Runners-up in Ligue 1 last season, Marseille begin their Champions League campaign away at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, and they warmed up in fine fashion by easing to victory against newly-promoted Auxerre in Burgundy.
Brazilian international Gerson scored the opener, converting the rebound after Cengiz Under hit the post.
Arsenal loanee Nuno Tavares hit the post for Marseille in the second half, before Sanchez — rested at kick-off — came on and finished off a cutback from fellow substitute Matteo Guendouzi to make it 2-0 six minutes from time.
“It has been a very positive start to the season,“ admitted Marseille coach Igor Tudor, appointed ahead of the campaign.
“The Tottenham match comes at a time when the players are in good shape. It is a fantastic competition. We were in pot four for the draw but we want to make a good impression.”
Lyon are just three points behind the leaders with a game in hand as they remained unbeaten this season after a Saturday evening stroll against a winless Angers.
Karl Toko-Ekambi scored twice in a 5-0 victory, with Alexandre Lacazette, Castello Lukeba and Moussa Dembele also on target.
Lens can go level on points with the leaders if they win at Reims on Sunday.-AFP