Kylian Mbappe makes PSG history, combines with Lionel Messi to down Lens, take major step toward Ligue 1 crown

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PARIS — Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi were both on target as Paris Saint-Germain beat RC Lens 3-1 in Ligue 1 on Saturday to reestablish a nine-point lead at the French summit. Vitinha was also on target as Salis Abdul Samed saw red 19 minutes in for the visitors who grabbed a consolation effort through Przemyslaw Frankowski’s second-half penalty. However, despite back-to-back wins over two of the more established Championnat sides, it feels like this was merely confirmation that PSG could perhaps have done more during the crucial period of the season.

Mbappe’s goal wrote the French superstar further into the history books at Parc des Princes as the capital club’s leading Ligue 1 scorer with 139 goals. It was Mbappe’s combination with Messi which really caught the eye in the capital on Saturday, though, as the pair combined splendidly for the hosts’ third after Vitinha had added to Mbappe’s opener. There were nine first half minutes where it was too easy for PSG against Ligue 1’s second best side — Lens were down to 10 men because of Samed’s lunging attempt at a tackle on Achraf Hakimi despite the visitors’ bright start and the hosts were much sharper than usual

Unlike OGC Nice, this was a logical victory where Christophe Galtier’s side were more ruthless in front of goal than Franck Haise’s men and dominated the ball for once. That did not stop a few sloppy Parisien defensive errors, though, with Fabian Ruiz conceding a second half penalty for a handball which he can have few complaints over. Ultimately, it was a reminder that this PSG side could have given more when the UEFA Champions League and Coupe de France were in play, but it should ensure that the Ligue 1 title race is over. 

Mbappe has looked jaded of late and often struggles against Lens, but he got himself up for this one and tallied with a neat finish in off the post for his historic goal before a superb backheel to tee Messi up. Nuno Mendes was also impressive once more and very nearly scored a goal of the season contender with a first half finish which he just fired wide. Lens gave a good account of themselves before going 1-0 down and during the second half when they could have crumbled at 3-0 down and they won the second 45 despite being a man down.

The damage was done by Samed’s dismissal, though, and perhaps the game would have played out differently at 11 vs. 11 given that the Northerners were on top until then roared on by their loyal traveling fans. With Galtier under-fire because of a scandal concerning his time with Nice and Mbappe pushing PSG on their heavy use of his for their season ticket campaign, this should have been an end to the crisis. The French tactician is by no means out of the woods, though, despite victories in two must-win games.

“I am a bit tired,” admitted Galtier post-match. “The nights have been short. My family is fine and they are where they should be. You have to take refuge in your work — even if you cannot ignore the issue. It is important to have public support as well as personal. All of the messages received have warmed my heart — not just for me, but for my family and our name. I have been enriched my entire life by diversity.”

Trouble is rarely far away in Paris and that has been especially true of late with this term as eventful away from the field as it has been on it. PSG have been run closer for the Ligue 1 title than expected by a team with a fraction of their budget with this now a season where the absolute bare minimum is being achieved. Overhauling PSG should now be beyond the likes of Lens and Olympique de Marseille, but you never know with this iteration of the capital side who will not be fully safe until the title is confirmed.

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