Kylian Mbappe and Neymar both scored hat tricks as runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain moved closer to a record-tying 10th French league title by thrashing Clermont 6-1. PSG extended its lead to 15 points with seven rounds remaining after this weekend.
Lionel Messi picked out Neymar, who rifled into the far corner in the sixth minute for the opener. The Argentina star then chested down a cross from Neymar in the 19th to provide a volleyed pass for Mbappe, who beat goalkeeper Arthur Desmas on Saturday.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino showed signs of irritation on the touchline as his visiting team became complacent after the second goal. Clermont scored in the 42nd when Benin winger Jodel Dossou tapped in a cross from Saif-Eddine Khaoui.
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma protected PSG’s lead by parrying Jason Berthomier’s shot in the 62nd before PSG took full control. Neymar gave PSG a 3-1 lead by converting a penalty in the 71st after Clermont fullback Akim Zedadka brought down Mbappe.
Three minutes later, Neymar hit a ball over the top for Mbappe, who rounded Desmas to score into an empty net. Mbappe got his hat trick by curling into the far corner in the 80th to raise his tally to a league-leading 20 goals.
The France striker generously set up Neymar for a tap-in for his hat trick in the 83rd. Messi, Neymar and Mbappe are combining more effectively on the field, with a greater understanding between the players.
“It’s a pity that it’s only coming now,” Mbappe told Canal Plus television. “There have been a few events that have delayed us.”
Messi needed time to adapt to a new league and picked up minor knocks while Neymar had fitness issues at the start of the season and was then sidelined by an ankle injury for more than two months.
PSG snapped a four-game losing streak on the road in all competitions while Clermont had a fifth straight loss to remain 17th, one point above the relegation zone. Also Saturday, Benjamin Bourigeaud scored twice as Rennes moved into second place by winning 3-2 at Reims.
Rennes is level on points with Marseille, which hosts Montpellier on Sunday. Reims created chances early on by pressing high up the field, forcing Rennes goalkeeper Dogan Alemdar to deny Marshall Munetsi in the fourth minute and Nathanael Mbuku in the 25th.
After a shaky start, Rennes steadied itself and took control of the game. Bourigeaud opened the scoring by heading home a cross from Gaetan Laborde in the 39th. The Rennes midfielder doubled the lead in the 43rd with a deflected shot.
With eight goals and 11 assists in the league, Bourigeaud is having his best season so far. Martin Terrier notched his 18th goal with a low strike in the 58th to make it 3-0.
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A strong finish from Reims tested the nerves of Rennes.
Belgian defender Maxime Busi pulled one back with a downward header in the 60th. Then Reims substitute Moussa Doumbia had his penalty saved by Alemdar in the 77th after Rennes center back Nayef Aguerd had tripped Ilan Kebbal.
The hosts won another penalty three minutes later when Busi’s shot hit Adrien Truffert’s hand. Sweden international Jens Cajuste sent Alemdar the wrong way to cut Rennes’ lead.
“Maybe we believed that the game was over and we put ourselves in big trouble,” Rennes coach Bruno Genesio told Amazon Prime Video.
“It’s nearly a miracle that we come away with the three points. But those are three very important points.”
Press Release, Source: AP News