They are expected to be the big stars at Qatar 2022 and French star Kylian Mbappe, Argentine Lionel Messi and Brazilian Neymar Jr. finished their engagements for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) before the FIFA World Cup break with a 5-0 win against Auxerre here on Sunday.
Coach Christophe Galtier opted to start with his magic trio of Mbappe, Neymar Jr. and Messi for his side’s final outing before the World Cup in a Parc des Princes basking in the sunshine, where the supporters of the club from the capital had turned out in their numbers for the lunchtime kick-off.
With the newly-promoted Auxerre playing an ultra-defensive system built around the PSG trio, life wasn’t going to be easy for the team from Paris. But with a lot of creativity and intense pressure, PSG quickly managed to make a difference.
An incredible piece of link-up saw Mbappe played in by Nuno Mendes, and the Frenchman scored his 19th goal of the season with his first effort of the afternoon in the 11th minute.
With an Auxerre side determined to keep things tight across the field, PSG were able to alternate between long periods of possession and lightning changes of pace. Despite that, the score remained 1-1 until the break, before PSG really came into their own as they came back out from the dressing room.
After another move down the left, it was Carlos Soler who turned the ball home, with a smart header across the goal in the 50th minute.
On a roll, the Spaniard turned provider just 10 minutes later, when he set Achraf Hakimi on his way on the counter-attack. The Moroccan ran like the wind and beat Benoît Costil with a well-placed finish in the 57th minute.
The fourth goal could have come soon with a gem from Neymar Jr. finding Messi before his effort was denied by the post.
Coach Christophe Galtier’s changes made a difference too, with Ekitike and Renato Sanches both coming on, the former found the latter for the fourth goal in the 81st minute.
The cherry on the cake was when Ekitike opened his account for the club after pressing high up the pitch, before finishing into the back of the net to make it 5-0 in the 84th minute.
PSG thus finished at the top of the table before the break, as they moved to 41 points from 15 games.