Mbappe’s Double Sends France To Round Of 16

Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring against Denmark. Twitter/FIFA WORLD CUP

 

Kylian Mbappe scored twice, including a late winner, as holders France edged Denmark 2-1 on Saturday to become the first team to reach the last 16 of the World Cup.

A potent French side knew a second victory in as many Group D outings would take them through to the knockout phase and they were well worth the lead that Mbappe gave them when he opened the scoring at Stadium 974 just after the hour mark.

However, Andreas Christensen soon equalised for the Danes and Les Bleus needed Mbappe to deliver again in the 86th minute as he turned in Antoine Griezmann’s cross to puncture the Danish resistance once and for all.

Having scored four during France’s victorious 2018 campaign and one against Australia, Mbappe now has seven goals in nine World Cup appearances.

Didier Deschamps’s side now have the luxury of going into their final group game against Tunisia knowing a draw will guarantee them top spot, and even a defeat may not prevent them finishing first.

Having come roaring back to batter Australia 4-1 in their opening match in Qatar, France were more wasteful in front of goal on this occasion but at least they did not come unstuck against opponents who have caused them problems before.

They were reigning champions when a defeat to the Danes knocked them out of the 2002 World Cup, while the sides played out the only goalless draw in 2018.

READ ALSO: Suadi Arabia Fall To Poland As Lewandowski Breaks World Cup Duck

More recently Kasper Hjulmand’s side beat France home and away in this year’s Nations League, and it seemed that Deschamps had learned lessons from those two encounters.

If France were a shadow of their usual selves in Copenhagen in September, they were much better in this match, played in a pop-up stadium made of shipping containers on Doha’s waterfront.

Deschamps changed three of his back four, with Theo Hernandez at left-back in place of his injured elder brother Lucas and Raphael Varane coming in for his first game in over a month.

AFP

‘I Don’t Even Read About Mbappe Now,’ Says Madrid Chief Perez

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and SL Benfica, at The Parc des Princes Stadium, on October 11, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

 

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says he no longer even reads about Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe.

According to recent reports the forward was angry with the Ligue 1 club and wanted to leave in January but Mbappe said that he had not asked to be sold.

Real Madrid tried to sign the forward at the end of last season but he decided to sign a new contract with PSG instead.

“It’s not that it bores me — I don’t even read about it now,” Perez told radio station Cadena Ser early on Tuesday after the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris.

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema won the men’s trophy, while winger Vinicius Junior was eighth in the rankings.

“You don’t know what can happen in the future, but the forwards at Real Madrid are progressing at a spectacular rate, year by year,” continued Perez.

“Rodrygo and Vinicius are two great players, young, they have their lives in front of them to prosper. Madrid are only focused on the players that we have. And we love them.”

Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois won the Yashin Trophy for the best goalkeeper and finished seventh in the rankings, while midfielder Luka Modric was ninth, the pair having helped Los Blancos win La Liga and the Champions League last season.

Benzema, who scored 44 goals in 46 games, was heralded as the world’s best player. “Benzema deserves the Ballon d’Or,” added Perez.

“He’s been the best player for the last three or four years. He’s a number nine that’s a mix of Ronaldo Nazario and Zinedine Zidane. He does two jobs at once, pulling the strings in attack like Zidane and he shoots like Ronaldo did.”

La Liga Win Injunction To Freeze 50 Million Euros Of beIN Assets

 

Spain’s top football division, La Liga, has taken out a court injunction against the beIN Media Group to freeze 50 million euros ($48.5 million) of their assets after non-payment for television rights.

The dispute is widely seen as the latest salvo in a feud between La Liga’s outspoken president Javier Tebas and beIN Group Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who is also the president of Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain.

The two men have been at loggerheads on a range of issues over the past few years.

A Spanish court placed a temporary hold on the 50 million euros pending a full hearing on the case, according to court documents issued on Monday that AFP has seen.

A La Liga spokesperson confirmed the Spanish league had sought legal remedies “to guarantee the payment of the amounts owed from the contracts for international TV rights following non-payment by beIN.”

The media group broadcasts La Liga football across three continents and in 35 countries, including France, Hong Kong and New Zealand, paying La Liga an estimated 1.5 billion euros over the past five years.

“BeIN is one of the leading media groups in world sport and entertainment. Our reputation is founded on decades of significant investment, best-in-class broadcasting, long-term and trusted relationships with rights-holders, and a track record of payment,” a beIN Media Group spokesperson told AFP.

“We will not discuss publicly the private discussions we’ve been having with La Liga, or any rights-holder for that matter, regarding specific contracts. That is not how business should be conducted, certainly not by professional and dignified institutions.

“If we ran our operations reacting to certain executives’ comments on others within the sports industry, we wouldn’t be in business.”

Al-Khelaifi has become an increasingly powerful presence in the world of football as president of the European Club Association (ECA). Both he and Tebas are on UEFA’s Executive Committee.

Tebas condemned PSG and Premier League side Manchester City in June this year for violating Financial Fair Play rules, and has often railed against “state-owned” clubs for “financial doping”. PSG are owned by a Qatari investment fund.

La Liga protested against PSG signing Kylian Mbappe to a new contract in the summer, with the player turning down Real Madrid, by filing a complaint against them in a French court.

At the time, Tebas described the new Mbappe deal as “an insult to football”.

At a La Liga event in May, Tebas attacked Al-Khelaifi for having too many conflicts of interest given his multiple positions in football.

“He wears a lot of hats, there’s too many conflicts of interest and this cannot be,” said Tebas.

“It can’t happen in football in 2022. A leading actor like him cannot be in these organisations and preside over a TV channel that buys (the rights to) La Liga, the Champions League, (and) internationals.”

AFP

Could Kylian Mbappe Really Be Set To Leave PSG?

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe warms up prior to the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and SL Benfica, at The Parc des Princes Stadium, on October 11, 2022. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

 

 

Reports emerged this week that Kylian Mbappe wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain in the next transfer window, despite the France superstar only signing a new contract with the Qatar-owned club at the end of last season.

AFP Sport looks at just why Mbappe might be unhappy, what PSG are saying, and whether a departure in January is a possibility.

Why is Mbappe said to be unhappy?

The story emerged on Tuesday, with Spanish sports daily Marca and several French media reporting that Mbappe wants to leave PSG as soon as possible. Many of the reports in France claimed that the 23-year-old feels “betrayed” by the club, disappointed that promises made to him when he signed his new contract in May have not been kept.

It is true that PSG did not make all the signings they wanted in the close season, with most of the focus on their failure to bring in a central defender. Yet Mbappe was apparently expecting a new centre-forward to arrive as well.

Robert Lewandowski was among the players linked with a move to Paris before eventually choosing Barcelona. The French champions also missed out on Italy striker Gianluca Scamacca, who went to West Ham United instead.

Mbappe, who scored 39 goals last season, got his 12th of this campaign in Tuesday’s 1-1 Champions League draw against Benfica. In Paris he plays alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi in an all-star front three, but he has hinted that he is not happy with the position he has been asked to play by new coach Christophe Galtier.

“I play differently here. I am asked to do different things than with my club. I have much more freedom,” Mbappe said after scoring for France against Austria last month.

Galtier himself later admitted that the World Cup winner is “more restricted” at his club, and that appears to be enough for the player to be having second thoughts about his decision to sign a new contract just a few months ago.

What have PSG said?

Luis Campos, the Portuguese recruitment guru who was appointed to the role of football advisor by PSG just after Mbappe signed his new deal, responded to the reports by insisting on Tuesday that Mbappe “has never spoken to me about leaving in January” when asked by broadcaster Canal Plus.

Meanwhile, coach Galtier insisted he was not aware that Mbappe might want to leave the Parc des Princes this season. “I know nothing,” Galtier said. “All I know is that a rumour became a story and then that almost became a declaration.”

But the rumour was, according to several sources, started by the entourage of the player in order to put pressure on PSG because their number seven feels let down by the club.

“You are taking things out of context,” Achraf Hakimi, an ally of Mbappe’s in the Paris dressing room, told journalists. “He is concentrated on the club and he is happy here.”

Where could he go?

In any case, there is surely no chance PSG would consider selling their star player in the January transfer window. After all it is less than five months since they celebrated, on the final night of last season in May, after convincing Mbappe to turn down Real Madrid and sign a new three-year contract to stay in his home city until 2025.

If the rumours refuse to go away, PSG may think differently at the end of this season, especially if they fail again in their attempts to win the Champions League.

They may then feel that the club would be better off without an unhappy Mbappe.

Realistic contenders to sign a player of Mbappe’s status — he is the top-earning footballer in the world this year according to Forbes magazine — are few and far between.

However, despite their disappointment at missing out on Mbappe at the end of last season, Madrid would surely come back again as they look for a long-term successor to the ageing Karim Benzema up front.

The other club that has been periodically linked with France’s golden boy in recent years is Liverpool, who have the riches of the Premier League and may see Mbappe as the man to breathe new life into Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Mbappe Gets PSG Off To Flying Start In Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the 1-0 goal during the UEFA Champions League Group H first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Juventus at Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris, on September 6, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

 

Kylian Mbappe produced two lethal first-half finishes as Paris Saint-Germain got their latest bid for Champions League success off to a winning start by beating Juventus 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

Mbappe’s two goals were stunning, the first coming after an outrageous scooped assist by Neymar inside five minutes and the second at the end of a superb move midway through the first half.

PSG were cruising at half-time before being given a wake-up call early in the second half as substitute Weston McKennie headed Juventus back into the game.

Yet Juve are a faded force compared to just a few years ago and came to the French capital without several key players, including former PSG star Angel di Maria.

They could not find an equaliser and the Parisians claimed their first three points in Group H.

“I was very pleased with the team,” said PSG coach Christophe Galtier. “Winning in difficult circumstances can only make us stronger.”

Mbappe, along with Galtier, had come in for stiff criticism in France in the 24 hours leading up to this game for laughing when a question was put to him in the pre-match press conference about his club’s decision to travel for last weekend’s league visit to Nantes by private jet rather than take a more environmentally friendly train.

The World Cup winner’s performance here suggested none of the negative headlines had remotely bothered him, as Mbappe confirmed exactly why PSG were so desperate to keep him at the end of last season when he seemed set to depart for Real Madrid.

“We knew before this game that we had weaknesses but we are working to improve,” Mbappe told broadcaster Canal Plus.

He signed a new deal in Paris to 2025 with the aim of leading his hometown team to a first Champions League title after a decade of disappointing defeats and occasional humiliations at the business end of the competition.

“I have a new role in the side now. The coach wants me to be someone who can hold the ball up, to get in behind and also that I act as a link between Leo and Ney. I am trying to adapt to that new role while also scoring goals.”

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (top) leaps over Juventus’ Argentine midfielder Leandro Paredes (bottom) as Juventus’ Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci (R) pursues during the UEFA Champions League Group H first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Juventus at Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris, on September 6, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

– Electrifying –
He needed just five minutes to get the breakthrough on a balmy evening after linking up brilliantly with Neymar, one of his rivals for the limelight in PSG’s squad of superstars.

Mbappe, coming in from the left, supplied Neymar before continuing into the box to meet the Brazilian’s delightful return pass with a volley across goalkeeper Mattia Perin into the far corner.

Juve actually very nearly equalised in the 19th minute when Arkadiusz Milik’s header from Juan Cuadrado’s cross was parried by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

It was 2-0 just three minutes later, as Mbappe played an electrifying exchange with Achraf Hakimi this time before sending another first-time strike past Perin.

With Marco Verratti and summer signing Vitinha robbing balls in midfield, Lionel Messi slipping in between the Juve defence and midfield to play intelligent passes, and Mbappe seeking to deploy his electrifying pace, PSG looked impressive.

But Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri sent on McKennie for the ineffective Fabio Miretti at half-time, and the United States international reduced the deficit in the 53rd minute.

Leandro Paredes played a short corner on the left to Filip Kostic, and his cross was headed home by McKennie with Donnarumma caught in no-man’s land.

Mbappe had squandered a great chance to make it 3-0 moments before that when he chose to shoot into the side-netting rather than pick out Neymar at the back post.

The home side then had Donnarumma to thank for a fine save to keep out a Dusan Vlahovic header, but a bigger margin of victory for PSG would not have been undeserved, with Perin keeping out a late Neymar volley.

“We could have got a positive result. But PSG are an extraordinary team with fantastic players, and they had several chances too,” admitted Allegri.

Mbappe has nine goals in six games for his club this season, and has scored eight in his last seven Champions League appearances.

If he keeps playing like he is just now then this could well be PSG’s year at long last.

Will Mbappe And Neymar Flourish Together This Season For PSG?

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar take part in a training session at the ‘Camp des Loges’, French L1 Paris Saint-Germain football club’s training ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris on August 19, 2022, two days prior to the L1 football match against Lille LOSC. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

 

 

Kylian Mbappe will be the focus of attention as Paris Saint-Germain aim to continue their perfect start to the season in Sunday’s trip to Lille in Ligue 1.

Mbappe’s every gesture will be scrutinised and every move analysed after the World Cup winner’s attitude created headlines for the wrong reasons in his first appearance of the season last weekend.

After missing the opening two games, one in the league, due to suspension and then injury, the France striker returned and scored in a 5-2 win over Montpellier.

Yet he also had a penalty saved and then appeared to try, unsuccessfully, to persuade Neymar to give him the ball when PSG were awarded another spot-kick.

In what was his first competitive game since the confirmation after last season that he was staying in Paris rather than joining Real Madrid, Mbappe cut a frustrated, unhappy and even isolated figure.

That has raised doubts in France that Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi can flourish together.

Last season, Mbappe was PSG’s outstanding performer, scoring 39 goals in all competitions, while Neymar and Messi struggled for form and fitness.

Yet the two South Americans have seemed rejuvenated this season, with the Brazilian in particular impressing, scoring five goals in three games.

“He is really happy,” said midfielder Marco Verratti of Neymar, who insisted last month that he wanted to stay in Paris amid speculation that the club wished to sell.

“I think with the players we have, when you see that they are happy, they transmit that to everyone else.

“We need these players if we are going to be one of the strongest teams in the world. He is having a magnificent start to the season.”

Yet Mbappe did not look happy last weekend, although he was defended by his coach Christophe Galtier, who insisted the striker was simply not yet fully fit.

“He is a top-class player with a personality and character. Everyone expresses themselves in their own way,” Galtier said.

Sunday’s game takes Galtier back to Lille, the club he led to the title in 2021 before leaving to spend a season at Nice.

Player to watch: Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez made his Ligue 1 debut last weekend when he came off the bench for Marseille in their 1-1 draw at Brest. Now the 33-year-old Chilean forward will be hoping to start for his new club when they host to Nantes at the Velodrome.

Sanchez is bidding to breathe new life into his career in France after his departure from Inter Milan, for whom he started just nine games last season. The former Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester United forward has signed a one-year contract at Marseille.

Key stats
2 – Lille have won just two of their last 20 Ligue 1 meetings with PSG. Both their 5-1 win in April 2019, and their 1-0 success in April 2021, came with Galtier in charge of the northerners. He will be in the opposing dugout this time.

5 – PSG have scored five goals in each of their last three Ligue 1 games, going back to the end of last season. They have scored 23 in their last five outings in all competitions

62 – The total number of goals scored in the first two weekends of the season, at an average of 3.26 goals per game

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Lyon v Troyes (1900)

Saturday

Monaco v Lens (1500), Marseille v Nantes (1900)

Sunday

Strasbourg v Reims (1100), Angers v Brest, Clermont v Nice, Montpellier v Auxerre, Toulouse v Lorient (all 1300), Rennes v Ajaccio (1505), Lille v Paris Saint-Germain (1845)

Mbappe Chooses To Stay At PSG, Snubs Real Madrid – Reports

In this file photograph taken on February 29, 2020, Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Dijon at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
In this file photograph taken on February 29, 2020, Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Dijon at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe has decided to stay at Paris Saint-Germain despite weeks of speculation linking the forward to a move to Real Madrid, according to widespread reports on Saturday.

The French World Cup winner has made up his mind to remain faithful to PSG and is poised to sign a three-year extension to his contract which ends on June 30, L’Equipe in France and Spanish sports paper Marca reported.

The player’s entourage refused to elaborate but reports suggest PSG could make a statement later Saturday when the club are playing Metz in their final match of the season at the Parc des Princes.

The 23-year-old’s ‘will-he-won’t-he’ move to Madrid has kept fans and the two clubs on their toes over the past few months.

READ ALSO: Man City’s De Bruyne Voted Premier League Player Of The Season

Mbappe has made no secret of his desire to play one day for Real, who will play Liverpool in the Champions League final next weekend after securing a 35th Spanish title.

But PSG, who have won the Ligue 1 title for a record-equalling tenth time but angered their hardcore supporters with their limp exit to Real in the last 16 of the Champions League, have battled to hold on to their biggest asset.

It now appears Mbappe is staying put alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi to help them in their protracted quest to land the Champions League.

According to Marca and RMC, Mbappe has informed Real Madrid president Florentino Perez of his decision to remain at the French champions.

 

AFP

Mbappe’s Mother Denies He Has Agreed Deal To Stay At PSG

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the French L1 football match between Strasbourg RC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at La Meinau stadium in Strasbourg, eastern France, on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Patrick HERTZOG / AFP)

 

 

Kylian Mbappe’s mother has denied a report in France that her son has agreed in principle to stay at Paris Saint-Germain for up to another three years and shun a move to Real Madrid.

Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday that PSG’s Qatari owners had offered Mbappe a salary of 50 million euros ($53 million) a season and a loyalty bonus of 100 million euros if he stays.

The report said the club had offered a two-year contract with the option of a third year.

But Mbappe’s mother Fayza Lamari tweeted that the French World Cup-winning forward had not yet come to a decision.

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe gestures as he lies on the pitch during the French L1 football match between Strasbourg RC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at La Meinau stadium in Strasbourg, eastern France, on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Patrick HERTZOG / AFP)

 

“There is no agreement in principle with Paris Saint-Germain (or with any other club),” she said. “Discussions around the future of Kylian are continuing calmly to allow him to make the best choice, respecting all the parties involved,” she added.

Mbappe, 23, has made no secret of his desire to play one day for Real, who this week reached the Champions League final just days after securing a 35th Spanish title.

But PSG, who have won the Ligue 1 title for a record-equalling tenth time but angered their hardcore supporters with their limp exit to Real in the last 16 of the Champions League, are battling to hold onto their biggest asset.

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the French L1 football match between Strasbourg RC and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at La Meinau stadium in Strasbourg, eastern France, on April 29, 2022. (Photo by Patrick HERTZOG / AFP)

Mbappe Strikes Late To Give PSG Edge Over Real Madrid

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on February 15, 2022. Alain JOCARD / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) shoots and scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on February 15, 2022.
Alain JOCARD / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe scored four minutes into injury time to give Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

After Lionel Messi’s 62nd-minute penalty was saved by Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, it looked as though the game would finish goalless until Mbappe struck at the death.

The second leg will be played in Spain on March 9.

PSG Sweat Over Mbappe’s Fitness Ahead Of Real Madrid Clash

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Stade Brestois 29 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on January 15, 2022. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

 

Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe is being treated for a groin strain with their Champions League game against Real Madrid less than a month away.

“Mbappe in is treatment for a pain in his left adductor and we will give a fitness update on Friday,” PSG said Wednesday.

The 23-year-old Mbappe, who is tipped for a move to Madrid when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season, has been one of the club’s top performers again this campaign.

With ten goals and eight assists in the league, Mbappe has outperformed both Neymar and Lionel Messi while his four goals in the Champions League helped carry PSG into the last 16.

In better news for the Parisians, Messi appears to be in the frame for a return to action on Sunday when they host Reims after the Argentine caught Covid over the New Year holiday period.

Neymar has been ruled out since November with an ankle injury.

READ ALSO: Arteta Defends Arsenal’s COVID-19 Postponement Request

PSG hope all three attackers will be fully fit for February 15 for their Champions League first leg match with Real.

Mbappe recently brushed off speculation he would be joining Real Madrid before that clash.

“Not in January,” said Mbappe, who Madrid tried to buy last July with a 180 million euros ($209 million) bid.

“The main thing I have in mind is beating Real Madrid in February and in March,” he said.

In October Mbappe confirmed he had told PSG last July he wanted to leave the club.

The World Cup winner has declined a contract extension as the clock ticks down.

Mbappe And Messi Double Up In PSG Victory

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round day 6 Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Club Brugge, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 7, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round day 6 Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Club Brugge, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 7, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi both scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain rounded out their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 4-1 thumping of Club Brugge on Tuesday.

Mbappe scored twice in the first seven minutes, the second-fastest double at the start of a game in Champions League history, before setting up Messi to make it 3-0 at half-time.

Mats Rits got one back for the Belgians in the second half but Messi then netted a penalty to make it 4-1 and give PSG a welcome confidence boost in an underwhelming European campaign to date.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side knew before this game that they were heading through to the last 16 in second place in Group A behind Manchester City after losing 2-1 in England last month.

That means a theoretically harder tie against a group winner awaits them in next Monday’s draw, with Liverpool, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Manchester United already potential opponents.

However, with Mbappe on this kind of form and Messi saving his best for Europe, there is still plenty of reason for optimism for Pochettino, who should also have Neymar back from his latest ankle injury by the time the knockout phase begins in February.

Mbappe needed just 73 seconds to open the scoring, following up to finish low into the far corner after Simon Mignolet had saved from Nuno Mendes.

– Mbappe in a hurry –

The France World Cup-winning forward netted again in the seventh minute, showing great technique to volley in from Angel Di Maria’s assist for his 11th goal this season.

The only player to score two quicker goals at the start of a Champions League match is Rodrygo, for Real Madrid against Galatasaray in 2019.

Mbappe, who doesn’t turn 23 until later this month, is a player in a hurry and he is already onto 30 Champions League goals in his career — at the same age Messi had 25 and Cristiano Ronaldo, now the competition’s all-time top scorer, had eight.

It was a stunning burst of pace from Mbappe on the left that led to PSG’s third goal in the 38th minute as he picked out Messi in the middle and the Argentinian advanced to the edge of the box before scoring with a trademark left-foot finish into the corner.

The visitors pulled one back midway through the second half as Noa Lang set up Rits to finish past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

However, with RB Leipzig beating Manchester City 2-1 in the other Group A game, Club Brugge were condemned to finishing bottom and missing out on a consolation Europa League spot.

Messi then made it 4-1 for the Ligue 1 leaders in the 76th minute, converting a penalty he had won himself.

While the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has managed just one Ligue 1 goal in nine appearances since moving to France in August, he now has five in five Champions League appearances for PSG.

Messi moves onto 125 career goals in the Champions League, a tally bettered only by his old rival Ronaldo, who has 140.

Mbappe Takes Centre Stage For PSG In Absence Of Messi, Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts during the French L1 football match between Stade Brestois and Paris Saint-Germain at Francis-Le Ble Stadium in Brest on August 20, 2021. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Lionel Messi, Neymar and a host of other South American stars are missing for Paris Saint-Germain this weekend but Kylian Mbappe will take centre stage after starring for France in their successful UEFA Nations League campaign.

Messi, along with Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria, is with Argentina for their 2022 World Cup qualifier against Peru which was not due to kick off until early on Friday morning, French time.

Neymar and Marquinhos have been with Brazil, due to play Uruguay in a qualifier at the same time.

A third round of South American World Cup qualifiers in quick succession, so close to the weekend, has caused problems for clubs in Europe, where so many leading players are based.

PSG are one of many forced to prepare for matches this weekend without their South American stars, who will not be able to return in time.

“The different federations and FIFA all need to come together so that this type of situation doesn’t happen again,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino when asked about the manic schedule facing his players.

However, he added: “I am not looking for excuses. We have a big squad and it gives a chance to other players.”

Mbappe is available and on a high after scoring two goals and setting up two more as France won the Nations League in Italy.

Mbappe, who scored in the 2018 World Cup final as a teenager, got the decisive goal in last weekend’s final against Spain in Milan.

The 22-year-old’s future remains a subject of much debate with his contract up at the end of this season and Real Madrid waiting in the wings.

READ ALSO: Quicker Vaccinations Key to Pandemic Recovery, Says IMF

“The club will do everything to keep Kylian,” Pochettino told Spanish radio station Cope this week when inevitably pressed on the matter.

“As coach I would love him to stay here for many years to come.”

In Ligue 1 Mbappe has scored four goals this season with PSG already six points clear of Lens at the top of the table despite seeing their perfect start ended in a 2-0 defeat at Rennes two weeks ago.

After Friday’s game they play host to RB Leipzig in the Champions League in what will be their first European outing since beating Manchester City late last month.

Player to watch: Mohamed-Ali Cho

Cho was born in the Paris suburbs and spent time in PSG’s academy, so it will be a special occasion when he comes up against the capital side with Angers this weekend.

Still just 17, winger Cho is a prodigious talent who has already played in 30 top-flight games.

Cho actually spent much of his childhood in England and represented them as a youth international while on the books at Everton.

However, having signed professional terms with Angers, he has broken into the France Under-21 side at the start of this season and looks to have a very exciting future ahead of him.

Key stats

4 – Mbappe has gone four Ligue 1 games without scoring, his longest drought in France’s top flight since May 2018.

190 – The total number of minutes played in Ligue 1 by Messi since he joined PSG.

17 – The number of goals scored by Lille’s Jonathan David in Ligue 1 in 2021. He is fresh from scoring for Canada in a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Panama on Wednesday.

Fixtures (kick-offs GMT)

Friday

Paris Saint-Germain v Angers (1900)

Saturday

Clermont v Lille (1500), Lyon v Monaco (1900)

Sunday

Troyes v Nice (1100), Bordeaux v Nantes, Brest v Reims, Metz v Rennes, Strasbourg v Saint-Etienne (all 1300), Montpellier v Lens (1500), Marseille v Lorient (1845)