Leaders Paris Saint-Germain crushed Auxerre 5-0 with four second-half goals in Ligue 1 on Sunday to go into the mid-season World Cup break with a five-point lead over second-placed Lens.
PSG took an early lead through Kylian Mbappe after Lionel Messi found Nuno Mendes with a lob and the wing back’s cutback was fired home by the France international who became the league’s outright top scorer so far this season with his 12th goal.
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Although PSG scored only once before the break, they were in complete control from start to finish without having to exert too much energy, with players set to join their national teams for the World Cup which kicks off in Qatar next Sunday.
« The afternoon was perfect. I can’t even say ‘almost perfect’, it was perfect, » PSG boss Christophe Galtier told Prime Video.
« We only conceded one chance, we played a serious match. Everyone wanted to play this match, no one was particularly worried about the World Cup. »
PSG were in control and dominated possession but failed to score a second before the break while the visitors’ best chance fell to Senegal international striker M’Baye Niang, whose shot was blocked well by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The home side’s second goal was headed home by Spanish midfielder Carlos Soler in the 56th minute. Mendes was the architect as he went on a mazy run into the box, dribbling past three players before looping in an inviting cross for Soler.
Auxerre pressed forward to try to reduce the deficit and PSG duly punished their high line when Achraf Hakimi was released on goal by Soler, with the Morocco international outpacing the last defender and slipping the ball past keeper Benoit Costil before the hour.
With PSG in cruise control, Galtier withdrew Messi and Neymar, keeping in mind their injury history and with the World Cup on the horizon.
« I was probably the most concerned. That’s why I wanted to relieve Ney and Leo, » Galtier said.
« Kylian stayed on the pitch but he’s 23. Ney had also stopped in mid-week during a (training) session and Leo was coming back from a calf strain. »
Renato Sanches scored the fourth in the 81st after Costil kept French forward Hugo Ekitike out with a brilliant save.
But 20-year-old substitute Ekitike made up for his earlier miss by pouncing on a weak back pass before beating the keeper for his first PSG goal to complete the rout.
PSG lead the standings on 41 points from 15 games ahead of Lens on 36 with Stade Rennais a further five points adrift.