Birthday Boy, Mbappe, Powers PSG To Victory Over Caen
Kylian Mbappe celebrated his 19th birthday on Wednesday with a goal and an assist as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 3-1 victory over Caen in Ligue 1.
The French teenager has enjoyed a stratospheric rise in 2017 and rounded out a memorable year in style by setting up Edinson Cavani to fire PSG ahead on 21 minutes, before adding a goal of his own on the hour.
Spanish left-back Yuri Berchiche netted his first goal for the club since arriving from Real Sociedad as PSG strolled to a 10th straight home league win despite conceding a late Ivan Santini penalty.
Unai Emery’s team head into the winter break nine points clear of defending champions Monaco and Lyon, with both of those sides claiming 2-1 wins over Rennes and Toulouse respectively.
“It’s a good win to finish with 50 points, but the goal we conceded is something we want to work on after the holidays,” Emery said.
“I think the team has had a very good first half of the season,” he added. “We’ve accomplished our goals of being first in our Champions League group and being top of the league with a sizeable cushion.”
Marseille responded to losing their 12-match unbeaten run at the weekend by coming from a goal behind to defeat Troyes 3-1 at the Velodrome to stay within three points of the Champions League spots.
PSG captain Thiago Silva returned from injury at the Parc des Princes to solidify a defence without the suspended Dani Alves and Presnel Kimpembe, while Neymar shrugged off a bout of illness that forced him to miss training on Tuesday.
Mbappe, sporting dyed white hair for his birthday, was instrumental as PSG surged in front midway through the first half, bursting down the right wing before crossing for Cavani to flick majestically beyond Remy Vercoutre.
– Ibra record in sight –
It was the Uruguayan’s league-leading 19th goal of the season and drew him to within one of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s club record of 156 — achieved in just four prolific seasons in the French capital.
Giovani Lo Celso, filling in for the banned Marco Verratti in central midfield, created the hosts’ second goal on 57 minutes, getting to the byline and delivering a cross for Mbappe to confidently sweep home.
Neymar went close to adding a third when he broke clear of the Caen defence, but the Brazilian was denied by a terrific low stop from Vercoutre as the veteran goalkeeper tipped the ball onto the post.
Berchiche put the game beyond reach on 81 minutes after collecting a pass from Neymar and hammering low into the far corner, although Croatia striker Santini pulled a goal back from the spot late on after Silva was penalised for a handball.
Radamel Falcao struck for the 15th time this campaign as Monaco won at home to Rennes thanks to an 81st-minute goal from Keita Balde after Wahbi Khazri had levelled for the visitors.
Nabil Fekir converted a first-half penalty and former Manchester United full-back Rafael scored in stoppage time as Lyon beat Toulouse despite a last-gasp spot-kick from Max-Alain Gradel.
“PSG are setting a fairly high pace. For us the main goal is to finish on the podium and to carry on in the second half of the season like we finished the first,” Lyon captain Fekir said.
Bryan Pele put Troyes ahead at Marseille, but Rudi Garcia’s men roared back with goals from Dimitri Payet, Luiz Gustavo and Valere Germain, while Emiliano Sala grabbed a 92nd-minute winner for Nantes in a 1-0 victory at Amiens.
Nice were held to a 1-1 draw at Lille in the absence of suspended Italian striker Mario Balotelli, the result enough to move the struggling hosts out of the bottom two.