PARIS: Kylian Mbappe struck twice and created two goals for Neymar and another for Lionel Messi as Paris Saint-Germain thrashed Lorient 5-1 at home on Sunday to edge closer to the Ligue 1 title.
After three defeats in four games before the international break and a traumatic Champions League exit, PSG began the end-of-season run-in with a crushing win at the Parc des Princes.
They lead Marseille by 12 points and need just 13 more from their final eight games to be assured of a record-equalling 10th French title.
“We’ve got to keep winning and show that we want to get this 10th title,” Neymar told Prime Video.
“Losing is very difficult, that’s what happened in Madrid. We have to keep moving forward. It really hurt us to lose (in Europe), we wanted to go all the way in the competition.”
Messi and Mbappe combined to set up Neymar for the opening goal on 12 minutes as the Brazilian struck for just the sixth time in another injury-plagued campaign.
Mbappe then doubled the advantage with a neat finish inside the near post, but Terem Moffi gave Lorient hope early in the second half after punishing a defensive mix-up.
The Nigerian beat an uncertain Marquinhos to a loose pass from Achraf Hakimi, poking beyond Gianluigi Donnarumma.
With Lorient threatening to get back into the game, Mbappe restored PSG’s two-goal cushion by drilling home from 20 metres to take his league goals tally to 17, one behind Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder.
Mbappe teed up Messi to crash in a fourth via the underside of the crossbar on 73 minutes, moments after Sergio Ramos came on for a first appearance since January 23.
Neymar and Messi were both whistled by supporters in PSG’s last home game. This time it was Ramos who was jeered following a nightmare first season in Paris blighted by a calf problem.
Mbappe nearly capped a sensational performance with a hat-trick, his shot grazing the post after a scorching burst into the box.
He instead turned provider in the final minute, exchanging passes with Neymar to send the Brazilian racing through to complete a 14th win in 15 home games for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Marseille reclaimed second place with a 4-2 win at Saint-Etienne in a game that was rescheduled from Saturday following heavy snowfall.
Dimitri Payet and Bamba Dieng scored penalties either side of a comical own goal from Saint-Etienne defender Timothee Kolodziejczak before Amine Harit added a fourth for Marseille.
“We saw total domination from Marseille. It’s an important victory but we need to fight until the end,” said Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli.
“We can’t ease off and we’ll need to perform well when it’s more difficult.”
Denis Bouanga had given Saint-Etienne the lead at a sold-out Stade Geoffroy-Guichard after a mistake by Marseille goalkeeper Pau Lopez.
Lucas Gourna grabbed a late consolation for the hosts, who remain in the relegation play-off spot but are still just one point from safety.
Marseille are three points clear of Rennes while Strasbourg climbed above Nice into fourth courtesy of a 1-0 victory at home to Lens.
Ludovic Ajorque scored the only goal from the penalty spot as Strasbourg extended their unbeaten run to eight matches.
Ajorque notched his 11th goal of the season after a cross struck the arm of Poland international Przemyslaw Frankowski.
Strasbourg won another penalty when Ajorque was fouled by Lens goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca, but Kevin Gameiro’s spot-kick was saved.
They moved ahead of Nice on goal difference after Christophe Galtier’s side were held 1-1 at home against Rennes on Saturday.
Strasbourg are two points behind Rennes.
Brazilian winger Tete struck two minutes into his Lyon debut to give his new side a 3-2 home win over Angers.
The 22-year-old joined Lyon this week for the rest of the season from Shakhtar Donetsk following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
FIFA has allowed Ukraine-based players to temporarily suspend their contracts and move to other clubs.
Moussa Dembele twice gave Lyon the lead but Angers replied through goals from Mathias Pereira Lage and Sofiane Boufal, with Tete curling in the winner 10 minutes from time.
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