‘Phenomenon’ Mbappe keeps Monaco ahead of PSG
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PARIS, March 20 — Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe was described as a “phenomenon” after inspiring Monaco to a 3-0 win at Caen yesterday as the French Ligue 1 leaders maintained their three-point advantage over Paris Saint-Germain.
Monaco now have 71 points with eight games to play although Paris stayed in their slipstream after the four-time defending champions came back from a goal down to beat Lyon 2-1.
Early season pace-setters Nice have 64 points after a 1-1 draw at Nantes on Saturday which put them four behind PSG while Lyon’s loss left them 14 points outside the Champions League places.
Four days after edging Manchester City into the Champions League quarter-finals, Mbappe, who scored in both legs of the City win, ran Caen ragged.
Caen coach Patrice Garande said after the game Monaco had been better in every department, but singled out Mbappe for special praise.
“They have an absolute phenomenon up front — he killed us on his own,” Garande admitted.
“We knew beforehand it was going to be a tough afternoon. We were deservedly beaten by a really, really great side.”
The 18-year-old Mbappe got off the mark on 13 minutes when, after a swift exchange of passes, he ran through the defence into the box and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way with a low hard shot.
Two days after being called up into the France squad for the first time, Mbappe proceeded to torment the Caen back-line into giving away a penalty converted by Fabinho on 49 minutes to make it 2-0.
He then headed the third off the underside of the bar late in the game for Monaco’s 87th goal of the league season.
Next up for rampant Monaco is a date with Paris Saint Germain at the Stade de France in the League Cup final on April 1.
PSG, inspired by the return of Argentine star Javier Pastore who had been sidelined since February, played their first home game since their Champions League nightmare in Barcelona.
They were quickly behind at the Parc des Princes when Alexandre Lacazette scored following a corner after just six minutes.
But Adrien Rabiot, after 34 minutes, and German star Julian Draxler, six minutes later handed PSG an advantage they would not surrender.
“When we were knocked out of the Champions League, there was anger and disappointment, but we still have the League Cup and Ligue 1, so it was vital to quickly recover,” said Rabiot.
“We will need the fans behind us every time we play here.”
“The Champions League this year was an important objective. Now the main objective is the league title race.”
On Saturday, Mario Balotelli endured a frustrating afternoon as Nice dropped two vital points in their draw at mid-table Nantes.
However, the south coast side still look set for at least a Champions League qualifying spot next season by finishing third. — AFP