Kylian Mbappe’s goal the difference, as Paris Saint-Germain beat St Etienne 1-0
Kylian Mbappe’s second-half strike earned Paris St Germain a 1-0 win at St Etienne. As the French champions continued their march towards the Ligue 1 title.
France striker Mbappe, who had not scored in his two previous league outings, found the back of the net in the 73rd minute. This has put Thomas Tuchel’s side on 62 points from 23 games.
The result extended PSG’s lead to 12 points over second-placed Lille. Who have played two more games. They were held to a goalless draw at home by Montpellier earlier on Sunday.
“He (Mbappe) shows his quality every day in training, he has this hunger to score, score, score,” said PSG coach Tuchel. “It’s his quality. He is a special player.”
Mbappe has now scored 45 goals for PSG since signing from Monaco at the start of last season.
“We lost to a goal from nowhere. To a 20-year-old who will soon be the best player in the world,” said Saint-Etienne coach Jean-Louis Gasset.
With a second straight French title all but secured. Tuchel’s side now has their eyes firmly set on breaking their own record tally of 96 points set in 2015-16.
Tuchel rested midfielder Marco Verratti after his excursions in the midweek Champions League victory at Manchester United. With Leandro Paredes handed his first league start for the club.
“Everyone was tired after Manchester United. Physically, but also mentally,” added Tuchel. “It was necessary to control the game. To play focused.”
St Etienne are fifth on 40 points.
Five days after beating Manchester United 2-0 at Old Trafford in their Champions League last-16 first leg. The capital side enjoyed more possession but proved toothless in the first half. Only managing one shot on target.
They were also without the injured Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
Because of their absences, Juan Bernat and Leandro Paredes needed to produce solid performances in midfield. Meanwhile, Marquinhos slipped back down in a three-man defense.
PSG had their first clear chance ten minutes into the second half. When Julian Draxler forced Stephane Ruffier to a superb save. After being set up by Angel Di Maria.
The hosts were dangerous. With the lively Kevin Monnet Paquet a constant threat up front.
But PSG gained the upper hand when Mbappe was slipped through by Daniel Alves. Before beating Ruffier from close range to net his 19th goal in 18 appearances in the league this season.
Saint-Etienne started to show more ambition with time running out. But the best they could muster was Kevin Monnet-Paquet’s long-range strike which flew harmlessly over. With the winger injuring himself in the process.
A late set-piece came to nothing for Les Verts. As PSG sealed a 20th win from only 23 Ligue 1 games this term.
Tuchel was happy with his teams’ efforts. He said: “My team showed an exceptional mentality. We accepted all the circumstances. The lads defended with great intensity and vigilance. We accepted that it was a difficult match. I am very happy.
“Therefore we had to be patient. Because of this, the victory is deserved.”
Earlier on Sunday, Lille was held to a goalless draw by Montpellier, while Reims boosted their hopes of European qualification with a 2-0 victory over Rennes.