Kylian Mbappe scored one goal and made another as a much-changed Paris Saint-Germain eased to a 3-0 win over Patrick Vieira’s Strasbourg in Ligue 1 on Saturday.
Mbappe opened the scoring with a 10th-minute penalty and set up Carlos Soler to make it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark at a wet and windy Parc des Princes.
The reigning champions were heading for a routine victory and added a third in the 77th minute courtesy of Fabian Ruiz.
It was a second straight win for PSG following their 4-1 defeat away to Newcastle United in the Champions League earlier this month, and the result moved them provisionally to the top of Ligue 1 after nine games.
The Qatar-owned club are a point clear of Monaco and two ahead of Nice, who face Marseille later on Saturday.
“The logical concern with these games straight after an international break is that it is clearly not easy for the players to switch their mentality but the team played well and managed the game very well,” said PSG coach Luis Enrique.
He rested several regular starters with this game also coming just before a key Champions League meeting with AC Milan.
Achraf Hakimi and Ousmane Dembele were among those to be left out at kick-off, while Soler and Ruiz came in along with Danilo Pereira, Bradley Barcola and Lee Kang-in.
South Korean international Lee was making his first appearance for PSG in over a month, having helped his country win football gold at the Asian Games in the meantime.
“In general all those players who have been involved less up to now this season did well. They got an opportunity today and made the most of it,” said Luis Enrique.
Same approach against Milan?
However, there was no question of Mbappe being rested, despite him having started both of France’s recent matches, scoring in wins over the Netherlands and Scotland.
He opened the scoring from the penalty spot in front of the empty Auteuil end of PSG’s stadium, closed by the French league for this encounter as a punishment after homophobic chanting during a win over Marseille last month.
The penalty was awarded for a foul on Goncalo Ramos following great link-up play between Mbappe and Barcola, and it looked like a long way back for Strasbourg already.
Vieira’s young team, featuring five outfield starters aged 22 or under, briefly thought they had equalised moments later when South African striker Lebo Mothiba headed in, but the goal was disallowed for offside following a VAR check.
Instead PSG doubled their lead on 31 minutes following an electric piece of play from Mbappe, who produced a step-over to beat his marker before cutting the ball back from the byline for Soler to prod in.
It was Soler who set up the third goal late on for his fellow Spaniard Ruiz, who collected the ball in the box and skipped away from Strasbourg’s Gerzino Nyamsi before finishing.
There had been a brief scare for PSG shortly before that when Mbappe went down needing treatment after Nyamsi appeared to tread on his left foot, but the France captain managed to carry on.
Having sent out a team loaded with attacking players here, just as he did in the defeat by Newcastle, Luis Enrique must decide whether to play the same way against Milan.
“Each match is different,” he insisted, “but my objective is to have 11 players attacking and 11 defending.”
This was a third straight loss for Strasbourg, with the club who were recently bought by Chelsea’s owners BlueCo struggling for goals and having won just once in six games now.
“My young players need to learn and learn very quickly,” said Vieira.
“We competed but we made too many mistakes to stand a chance of taking anything from the game.”