Kylian Mbappe set Paris Saint-Germain on the way to a 2-0 win over troubled Marseille on Sunday, keeping the reigning champions within three points of Ligue 1 leaders Lille who earlier recorded their sixth consecutive victory.
Mbappe burst through at incredible pace to give PSG the lead on the counter-attack in the ninth minute at the Velodrome, with Mauro Icardi adding a second for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
The victory was achieved despite Neymar — who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday — only appearing as a substitute having missed training with a stomach bug.
PSG stay third, a point behind Lyon and three adrift of Lille, who won 2-0 at Nantes.
Marseille finished with 10 men after Dimitri Payet’s late sending-off, and are down in ninth having won just once in 11 games.
The Parisians go to Barcelona in the Champions League on February 16 but Mbappe insisted their thoughts remained on domestic matters as they first play in the French Cup in midweek and then host Nice next weekend.
“In previous years we might have been able to concentrate more on the Champions League but this year we really need to stay focused on the league because we are trailing,” the World Cup winner told broadcaster Canal Plus.
“But maybe that’s not a bad thing because we are forced to play with intensity in every game and that can mean that you’re not taken by surprise when it comes to the Champions League.”
‘Le Classique’ is the biggest fixture in French football, and the build-up to the 100th meeting of Marseille and PSG had been dominated by recent events in the Mediterranean city.
Marseille’s game last weekend against Rennes was postponed after several hundred supporters attacked the club’s training ground, and three days later coach Andre Villas-Boas was suspended by the club after declaring at a press conference he wanted to resign.
Nasser Larguet, the head of Marseille’s youth academy, took charge for Wednesday’s draw at Lens and was again on the bench against PSG.
The last league meeting of the teams in September was won 1-0 by Marseille, but was marred by five late red cards, including for Neymar. The Brazilian later accused Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez of racism, although no action was taken due to a lack of evidence.