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 at the Parc-des Princes on Wednesday.
Mbappe had already missed a penalty and a subsequent replay for a tackle on Montpellier before leaving with a worrying-looking injury in the 21st minute, clutching his hamstring as he walked straight down the tunnel.
But after Messi and Achraf Hakimi saw goals written off for offside, Fabian poked home in the 55th minute before Messi added a second to put Christoph 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 to seal victory, PSG’s first in three league games, and put 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 brought down Sergio Ramos from a free-kick in the Montpellier box.
Mbappe’s initial spot-kick was saved by Benjamin Lecomte but the Montpellier hit called for a replay but the France international saw his second attempt hit the post by Lecomte before sending the rebound over the bar.
After Mbappe and Sergio Ramos (head) were both forced off through injury, Messi thought he had put PSG in front with a smart finish, although a VAR review ruled him offside to send the game into the break goalless.
Messi fired into the side-netting after half-time before Hakimi saw a wonderful strike from distance ruled out, again for offside in the set-piece.
However, PSG’s wait to break the deadlock ended shortly after when Hugo Ekitike nodded Fabian to slot home from close range.
Messi added a second 18 minutes into the game when he coolly slotted into the bottom corner from Fabian’s perfectly balanced ball, although Nordin caused the visitors some anxiety by finding the bottom corner in the 89th minute.
Substitute Zaire Emery ended any hopes of a comeback for Montpellier by firing home a third in the dying seconds.
PSG player ratings vs Montpellier
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6/10 – Statuesque as Arnaud Nordin pulled a goal back for Montpellier late on. Didn’t have much to do.
RB: Achraf Hakimi – 7/10 – Denied a fantastic goal by the assitant referee’s flag. There are few better full-backs to watch than Hakimi when he’s in full flow.
CB: Marquinhos – 7/10 – Passing accuracy was on point and seemed to be in full control until a late blip almost cost PSG dear.
CB: Sergio Ramos – 6/10 – Was doing pretty well, even winning a penalty, before an unfortunate clash of heads ended the Spaniard’s night.
LB: Nuno Mendes – 6/10 – Still working his way back to full fitness but got a good hour and a bit under his belt.
DM: Danilo Pereira – 6/10 – Slipped into the back four after Sergio Ramos went off injured – a role he’s becoming increasingly familiar with.
RCM: Carlos Soler – 6/10 – A little quiet compared to those around him and was often outduelled.
CM: Vitinha – 7/10 – Again impressive in the heart of midfield, playing a key role in PSG’s opening goal.
LCM: Fabian Ruiz – 8/10 – Was in the right place at the right time to give PSG the lead, and then produced a fantasticly weighted pass for Messi’s goal.
ST: Lionel Messi – 8/10 – Denied by VAR in the first half but showed his class to put the game beyond Montpellier. The lead orchestrator of all things good, as per.
ST: Kylian Mbappe – 4/10 – Missed two penalties and went off injured. Not a night for Mbappe to remember.
SUB: Hugo Ekitike – 7/10 – Gave PSG an outlet up front, and his hard work and endeavour allowed PSG to break the deadlock.
SUB: Renato Sanches – 6/10 – Helped PSG control proceedings after coming on for the injured Ramos.
SUB: Warren Zaire-Emery – 7/10 – Took his goal superbly to become PSG’s youngest ever goalscorer. A real talent.
SUB: Juan Bernat – 6/10 – A steady but unspectacular 20 minutes or so for the former Bayern Munich man.