Montpellier 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain: Messi among goals as champions win despite Mbappe injury
Paris Saint-Germain earned a first win in three league games despite key man Kylian Mbappe being forced off with injury.FotMob - about 2 months ago
Paris Saint-Germain overcame an injury to Kylian Mbappe as goals from Fabian Ruiz, Lionel Messi and 16-year-old Warren Zaire-Emery saw them beat Montpellier 3-1 in Ligue 1 on Wednesday.
Mbappe had already missed a penalty, and its subsequent retake for a Montpellier encroachment, before coming off in the 21st minute with a worrying-looking injury, clutching his hamstring as he went straight down the tunnel.
But after Messi and Achraf Hakimi both saw goals chalked off for offside, Fabian poked home in the 55th minute before Messi added a second to put Christophe Galtier's men in control.
Arnaud Nordin pulled one back only for Zaire-Emery to come off the bench to score his first senior goal, sealing a victory that is PSG's first in three league games and puts their hopes of lifting a ninth title in 11 seasons back on track.
PSG were awarded a penalty after just seven minutes when Christopher Jullien hauled down Sergio Ramos from a free-kick into Montpellier's box.
Mbappe's initial spot-kick was saved by Benjamin Lecomte, but a Montpellier encroachment prompted a retake, only for the France international to see his second attempt tipped onto the post by Lecomte before sending the rebound over the bar.
After Mbappe and Sergio Ramos (head) were both forced off with injury, Messi thought he had put PSG in front with a clever chipped finish, though a VAR review ruled him offside to send the game into the break goalless.
Messi blasted into the side-netting following half-time before Hakimi saw a wonderful strike from distance ruled out, again for offside in the build-up.
But PSG's wait to break the deadlock ended shortly after, Hugo Ekitike nodding across for Fabian to stab home from close-range.
Messi added a second with 18 minutes to play as he coolly dinked into the bottom corner from Fabian's perfectly weighted throughball, though Nordin caused some anxiety for the visitors by finding the bottom corner in the 89th minute.
Substitute Zaire-Emery ended any hopes of a Montpellier comeback though by blasting home a third in the dying seconds.
What does it mean? PSG boost title hopes
After they were beaten by Rennes and only picked up a point against Reims, PSG were desperate for a win here to get their title charge back on course. They got exactly that, as well as an impressive performance to boot.
Galtier's side were full value for their victory, registering 3.94 xG (expected goals) to Montpellier's 0.35, while they had two goals ruled out for offside. They were ruthless in the second half, creating six chances in the second 45 minutes, converting three of them.
Messi the main man
After Mbappe was forced off, Messi stepped up to lead the champions to victory, capping his impressive display with a well-taken goal.
The Argentina international finished with nine shots, three of which were on target, while he also created two chances and had twice as many touches in Montpellier's penalty area (eight) as any other PSG player.
Injury problems piling up
Galtier ruled out Neymar from featuring in this game because of muscle fatigue, and his injury concerns look to have worsened with less than two weeks until the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 clash with Bayern Munich.
Two of Galtier's key men, Mbappe and Ramos, both went off in the first half and though PSG were able to overcome that to win, their absences may prove to be more of an issue against a team the quality of Bayern.
Both teams are back in Ligue 1 action at the weekend, with PSG hosting Toulouse on Saturday while Montpellier travel to face Strasbourg the following day.