Mbappe, Neymar score hat-tricks as PSG thump Clermont

AFP , Saturday 9 Apr 2022

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar both scored hat-tricks as Paris Saint-Germain romped to a 6-1 thrashing of struggling Clermont on Saturday to move closer to winning Ligue 1.

Paris Saint-Germain s Brazilian forward Neymar (L) celebrates with Paris Saint-Germain s French forward Kylian Mbappe after scoring three goals during the French L1 football match between Clermont Foot 63 and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Gabriel-Montpied stadium in Clermont-Ferrand, central France, on April 9, 2022. AFP

Mbappe, who has still not decided whether he will stay at PSG beyond this season, scored twice and had three assists in last weekend's 5-1 rout of Lorient.

He added another assist and won a penalty in this game as he moved to the top of the Ligue 1 goalscoring charts with 20 goals this season.

Mauricio Pochettino's men are now 15 points clear of second-placed Rennes and appear certain to regain the title with only seven games remaining.

Clermont remain in 17th spot, just one point ahead of Saint-Etienne who occupy the relegation play-off place.

PSG only have Ligue 1 left to play for this season after being knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid, but put in a second straight impressive performance.

They took the lead in the sixth minute as Mbappe caused havoc in the home defence with a driving run off the left wing.

The ball eventually found its way to Lionel Messi, whose clever pass found Neymar and the Brazilian drilled the ball into the far corner.

The Clermont players were left incensed that PSG had continued to attack despite a defender being down injured.

The champions-elect doubled their advantage inside 20 minutes as Messi collected his 12th league assist of the season.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner volleyed the ball through for Mbappe, who prodded it past onrushing goalkeeper Arthur Desmas.

But Clermont gave themselves hope of an unlikely comeback shortly before half-time as Jodel Dossou bundled in at the back post to finish off a fine team move.

Neymar almost restored PSG's two-goal lead before the break, but Desmas produced a fine diving save to tip the Brazilian's shot around the post.

The capital giants dominated possession after the restart but struggled to create many chances, and needed goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to save Jason Berthomier's shot.

But the game was ended as a contest with 20 minutes to play, as Mbappe was brought down in the box by Akim Zedadka following a quick counter-attack and Neymar sent Desmas the wrong way from the spot.

Mbappe grabbed his second goal just a few minutes later, racing onto Neymar's brilliant pass to round Desmas and tap in.

PSG's fearsome front three combined for the fifth goal, as Neymar's back-flick found Messi, who played in Mbappe to curl a magnificent strike into the far corner.

The away side made it four goals in the space of 12 minutes with seven minutes remaining, as Neymar completed his first hat-trick since December 2020.

He was indebted again to Mbappe, who ran clean through but unselfishly squared to give his teammate the easiest of finishes.

- Rennes move into second -

Earlier on Saturday, Rennes moved above Marseille into second place as a 3-2 victory at Reims boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.

Bruno Genesio's men are in front of Marseille, who host Montpellier on Sunday, on goal difference.

The top two qualify automatically for next season's Champions League group stage, with the third-placed side heading into the qualifying rounds.

Rennes have won six of their last seven league games to surge into contention, as Nice have slipped from the top three to fifth place after a poor run of results.

Benjamin Bourigeaud netted twice in four first-half minutes to give Rennes a two-goal half-time lead.

Martin Terrier made it 3-0 before the hour mark.

Rennes held on despite a late Reims rally with goals from Maxime Busi and Jens-Lys Cajuste, who netted a penalty just three minutes after his team-mate Moussa Doumbia had missed one.


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