Paris Saint-Germain 5-0 Ajaccio: Mbappe at the double as Parisians hone in on title
Kylian Mbappe's double helped Paris Saint-Germain take another step towards retaining their Ligue 1 title, thrashing Ajaccio 5-0 as Lionel Messi returned from his club-issued suspension.
Messi was jeered by some home fans throughout his first appearance since an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia, but Mbappe took the focus away with a second-half brace.
Fabian Ruiz and Achraf Hakimi had earlier given PSG a commanding half-time lead, and Ajaccio's Mohamed Youssouf later put through his own net as the visitors' relegation to Ligue 2 was confirmed.
Both teams finished with 10 men as Hakimi and Thomas Mangani were dismissed for trading punches, but that was not enough to dampen PSG's spirits as they restored their six-point cushion to second-placed Lens.
Fabian's second goal in as many games broke the deadlock 22 minutes in, the Spaniard charging into the area before finishing well with the outside of his left boot.
Hakimi soon doubled PSG's lead, tapping in the rebound when Francois-Joseph Sollacaro parried Mbappe's shot, with the referee opting against penalising Mbappe for handball after an on-pitch VAR review.
Mbappe got himself on the scoresheet inside 90 seconds of the second half, with his shot squirming under Sollacaro following a goalmouth scramble.
If Mbappe's first goal was fortuitous, his second – arriving seven minutes later – was sublime as he fired a fierce volley into the top-left corner following Cedric Avinel's failure to clear a long ball.
Mbappe was involved again as PSG scored a fifth with 17 minutes remaining. His rabona cross was cleared as far as Marquinhos, whose low effort struck Youssouf and found the bottom-right corner.
Tempers flared late on as Hakimi and Mangani saw red for throwing punches amid a scuffle, but that was as much fight as Ajaccio showed in a dispiriting outing.
What does it mean? No sign of title nerves for PSG
PSG could have crumbled when a demoralising 3-1 defeat to Lorient at the end of April allowed Lens to cut their lead to six points, particularly given their closest challengers have taken to the field – and won – before Christophe Galtier's men in each of the last two gameweeks.
The 10-time French champions had lost three of their last four at the Parc des Princes before Saturday's game, but they seemed unfazed by a hostile home crowd as they dismantled Ajaccio.
Mbappe matches Cisowski feat
Mbappe's double took him to 26 league goals for the season, two clear of Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette in the battle to top Ligue 1's scoring charts.
He has now scored 25 goals or more in four different Ligue 1 campaigns (also 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2021-22), becoming just the second French player to do so since the Second World War alongside Thadee Cisowski (1955-56, 1956-57, 1958-59 and 1959-60).
Messi makes understated return
In addition to his brace, Mbappe led his team-mates for shots (six), shots on target (four) and expected goals (1.04) during a fine display.
However, the France international had capable support in the form of another World Cup winner, the returning Messi.
Messi may have failed to net or register an assist, but he produced a solid display. Mbappe was the only PSG player to better his three shots and no team-mate created more than his two chances or bettered his 43 passes in the final third.
Key Opta facts:
- PSG have won all five of their Ligue 1 games against promoted teams this season, scoring 18 goals at a rate of 3.6 per match and only conceding once.
- Ajaccio saw their fourth relegation to Ligue 2 confirmed by Saturday's defeat, having also gone down from the top flight in 1972-73, 2005-06 and 2013-14.
- The visitors have also become the first promoted team to suffer immediate relegation from Ligue 1 since the 2017-18 campaign, when Troyes' stay in the top flight lasted just one season.
- Mbappe recorded 20 touches in the opposing penalty area against Ajaccio, the joint-highest tally managed in a Ligue 1 game since Opta records began in 2006-07 (also Angel Di Maria, for PSG against Nice in May 2019).
- Mbappe has scored multiple goals in seven different Ligue 1 matches this term. Across Europe's top five leagues, only Manchester City's Erling Haaland (nine) has done so more often.
- Hakimi has received a red card in each of his last two Ligue 1 games, becoming the third PSG player to be sent off in back-to-back matches across all competitions, after Daniel Bravo in 1995 and Jerome Leroy in 2002.
PSG travel to Auxerre next Sunday, when a victory would all but seal a fifth league title in six seasons. Ajaccio, meanwhile, host Rennes on the same day.