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Neymar labels Messi and Mbappe ‘geniuses’ after PSG trio star in win

Neymar hailed fellow hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain assists king Lionel Messi as “geniuses” after the 6-1 win over Clermont.

The Brazilian also echoed Mbappe’s verdict that it was a “shame” the superstar trio had not been able to link up more often this season.

Messi claimed three assists in the Ligue 1 leaders’ rampant away victory on Saturday night, becoming the first player to claim three assists on two separate occasions in the French top flight since Opta data for the competition began in 2006-07, having previously assisted three goals against Saint-Etienne in November.

The former Barcelona captain has averaged an impressive 0.73 assists per 90 minutes on the pitch during his first season in Ligue 1, a team-high.

Meanwhile, the trebles scored by Mbappe and Neymar meant they became the first Ligue 1 team-mates to net hat-tricks in the same game since Mbappe and Edinson Cavani did so against Guingamp in January 2019. Prior to that, the last team to achieve the feat were Bordeaux against Valenciennes in August 1979.

Speaking after reaching double figures for Ligue 1 goals this season, Neymar was delighted with PSG’s performance and said the relationship between the front three is improving with every match.

“I am very pleased to have scored my first hat-trick of the season,” Neymar said.

“And [I’m] even happier with the win and our attitude. It’s important that the chemistry between us get stronger in every match.”

The win represented just the 14th occasion across all competitions when all three attackers have started together this season, leading Mbappe to say it was a “shame” PSG fans had been forced to wait until now to see them perform regularly together.

Neymar delivered a similar sentiment, while labelling his attacking partners “extraordinary”.

“Unfortunately, everyone has gotten to pretty much 100 per cent only at the end of the season,” Neymar said, quoted on the official Ligue 1 website.

“It’s a shame, but I am very happy with everything that we are showing on the pitch. It’s a lot easier to play with players who are very intelligent.

“Leo and Kylian are extraordinary, they are two geniuses.”

PSG’s last 11 Ligue 1 goals have been scored by Mbappe (five), Neymar (five) or Messi (one), and Mauricio Pochettino’s men are closing in on the French title.

Neymar, meanwhile, has now scored against 24 of the 25 opponents he has faced in Ligue 1, the exception being Brest, and the treble was his first since January 2018, when he scored four goals against Dijon.

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Kylian Mbappe struck in the fourth minute of injury time to give Paris Saint-Germain a precious 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their heavyweight Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday. It looked as though Real would escape with a draw after weathering a first-half onslaught from PSG before Lionel Messi had a penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois just after the hour mark at the Parc des Princes.

Then, in the last minute of stoppage time, Mbappe burst into the box from the left and between two defenders before finishing past Courtois for his 22nd goal this season.

“I got myself into some space and then it was one against two in the box, and in the box the attacker is always in control,” Mbappe told broadcaster Canal Plus.

“The defenders were going back and I could decide where I wanted to go, and then I managed to put it between the legs of Courtois.”

Tipped to move to Madrid when his contract in Paris expires at the end of the season, Mbappe’s last-gasp strike means his current club have the edge heading into the return at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 9.

He added: “We are very pleased to have this slight advantage but there is a return leg to come and we need to make sure we prepare well in our upcoming league matches.”

The France World Cup-winning striker may have focused much of the attention coming into this tie amid the speculation about his future but the array of attacking talent elsewhere could not be overlooked.

Messi was coming up against Madrid for the first time since leaving Barcelona, for whom he scored a record 26 goals in the ‘Clasico’ over his years at the Camp Nou.

Real also knew all about the threat of Angel Di Maria, who won the Champions League with the Spanish giants in 2014.

He started because Neymar was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench having not played since late November due to an ankle injury.

The fragile Brazilian may have wondered how he might fit back into Mauricio Pochettino’s team as he watched the way they played without him in the first half.

PSG showed a hunger that has been lacking for most of the campaign in Ligue 1 even as they built a huge lead at the top of the table.

PSG’s pressing game suffocated their opponents, although Real were seemingly quite happy to defend deep and give up possession, aware that a 0-0 draw would do just fine with the away goals rule scrapped from this season.

That meant Karim Benzema, Real’s top scorer making his return after a three-game spell out injured, saw practically none of the ball along with the two players flanking him, Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio.

For most of the first half, PSG played perhaps their best football since the arrival of Messi last August. Yet Courtois only really had to make one save of note in that time, to deny Mbappe in the 18th minute.

The visitors would have tried to regroup at half-time, but less than five minutes after the restart Mbappe forced Courtois into an excellent save low to his right.

Courtois then topped that by diving to his left to keep out Messi’s 62nd-minute penalty, awarded after Mbappe was chopped down by Dani Carvajal, who he had tormented all evening.

The French club failed to score when on top in the first half and had now squandered a glorious chance to go in front. The miss summed up Messi’s underwhelming PSG career so far.

Pochettino sent on Neymar, the world’s most expensive player unmistakeable with his peroxide blonde hair.

However, Mbappe had scored a last-minute winner for his team against Rennes in the league last weekend and he again had the last word, leaving the side he might be representing next season up against it in the return in three weeks.

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“We are confident because we will be playing at home so we will have the stadium behind us,” Ancelotti told Canal Plus.

“Paris have a stronger chance but our hopes of going through are not lost.”

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Mbappe hits milestone as leaders soar

Kylian Mbappe joined a ton-up club with a first-half double against his former team as Paris Saint-Germain extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 with a 2-0 victory over Monaco.

PSG were held to consecutive draws by Nice and Lens in their previous two league games, and they almost fell behind at the Parc des Princes on Sunday when Sofiane Diop struck the woodwork in the opening stages.

However, the hosts were soon in control when Mbappe rolled in a penalty before adding a second in the first half – the 22-year-old forward reaching 100 goals for PSG in the French top flight. He is the youngest player to hit that landmark for any French top-flight team since at least 1950-51, Opta said.

Rennes slipped up with a 2-1 loss to Nice earlier, meaning Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG side moved 13 points clear of second spot, which is now occupied by Marseille after their 2-0 win at Strasbourg.

Diop was denied by the left post after just two minutes, before a VAR review resulted in a 12th-minute penalty at the other end for an apparent trip by Djibril Sidibe on Angel Di Maria.

Mbappe duly converted into the bottom-left corner from the spot, before a wayward Youssouf Fofana pass allowed PSG’s France striker to double his account in the 45th minute.

Lionel Messi intercepted before driving forward and unleashing Mbappe, who curled with pinpoint accuracy into the bottom-right corner to reach his century of goals with PSG.

Messi whipped narrowly over the bar with a free-kick after the interval and then dragged just wide minutes later, while Monaco rarely looked like troubling Gianluigi Donnarumma in an otherwise uneventful second half as PSG cantered to victory.

Pochettino’s side, despite previously disappointing with draws in successive league games, are unbeaten in their last nine French top-flight outings.

PSG had won just four of their 19 home games against Monaco in Ligue 1 this century, but this time they managed to overcome Niko Kovac’s in-form side. Monaco had been in great shape, with a 3-1 win over Angers and a 4-0 drubbing of Metz ahead of this game.

Mbappe will take all the plaudits for yet another brilliant attacking display, but attacking partner Messi’s role should not go under the radar.

The former Barcelona man has now been involved in goals in consecutive games for the first time in his PSG career, having scored twice against Club Brugge in the Champions League, and he provided a joint team-high two chances – including an assist – in a delightful display.

Sidibe opened the door for the hosts when he carelessly stood on Di Maria’s foot to offer PSG the early penalty.

Alongside earning a caution, Sidibe has now conceded nine spot-kicks since his top-flight debut in 2012-13, and no current player has given away more in that period.

PSG visit fifth-tier outfit SC Feignies in the Coupe de France next Sunday, while Monaco travel to Red Star on the same day. Mauricio Pochettino’s side return to league action away at Lorient on 22 December, when Kovac’s team host Rennes.

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France won the Nations League final with goals from Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe earning them a 2-1 win over Spain at the San Siro stadium on Sunday.

After a subdued fist half, the game sprung into life in the 64th minute when France full-back Theo Hernandez struck the underside of the bar after a swift break.

Moments later, Spain took the lead when Mikel Oyarzabal latched on to a long pass from Sergio Busquets, held off Dayot Upamecano and fired into the bottom corner.

The French response was swift, however, with Mbappe finding Benzema who cut inside before unleashing a brilliant curling shot into the far corner to make it 1-1.

Mbappe then grabbed the winner, 10 minutes from the end, racing on to a through ball from Hernandez and keeping his cool to slot past Unai Simon.

“We showed our character against a very strong team. We never gave up,” said Benzema. “It shows what great teams do — never panic, be patient and wait for the right time.

“We are going to enjoy this trophy and then go get the World Cup [next year].”

Coach Didier Deschamps said that Benzema’s contribution to the team extended beyond his goals.

“Karim is an essential player, he’s proved it over the last two games,” said Deschamps.

“He’s in line with what his been doing with his club. He’s extremely fit, way more than he was before, and he’s more mature. He’s got this rage to win that he communicates to the other players.”

Luis Enrique’s young Spain side, who had beaten European champions Italy in the semifinals, had played their trademark possession football with patience and precision but in the end could not compensate for the absence of a genuine striker.

“It was a difficult defeat,” said Spain defender Aymeric Laporte. “We have proven to be a great team despite our youth, we have shown better football than them, but what counts is the result.”

Spain protested that Mbappe was offside when he received the ball but the VAR check found a slight touch from defender Eric Garcia had played the France striker onside.

“It’s a shame. I think we did enough not to lose, but in two similar moves we conceded, although the goals were different. The second one, for us on the pitch, looked like offside,” Busquets said. “

But we have no choice but to congratulate the champions and keep going. We have one more small step left to win trophies and that’s our objective.

“Mbappe was in an offside position, the referee said that Eric goes to play the ball, and that means it’s not offside. That doesn’t make sense to us. You have to try to play the ball, Eric tried to cut out the pass like any defender would, he didn’t miscontrol.”

However, Luis Enrique found some solace in his group’s performance despite the defeat.

He said: “I think we competed on the same level as the current world champions, who have a physical potential and quality behind all doubt. We were in the game. It was hard for us at first because they’re new situations for some players.

“When we scored in the second half and it looked like we could win, we conceded. They don’t even let you breathe. We’re happy and satisfied.”

France had keeper Hugo Lloris to thank for two late saves as Deschamps’s side held on for the victory against intense Spanish pressure.

Lloris got down well to keep out a low shot from Oyarzabal in the 89th minute and then in stoppage time he reacted superbly to parry a strike from substitute Yeremi Pino.

Nations League, in just its second edition, remains clearly UEFA’s secondary tournament for national sides, as the Italian fans singing of their team’s Euro 2020 triumph reminded, but that didn’t dampen France’s celebrations.

“We did not get off to a good start we were dominated and waited until the first goal to react,” said Pogba, who was crucial to France’s response.

“We know we have to do better. But if it’s the way we have to win, so be it. Winning a trophy is always good. We’re always hungry for those,” he added.

Earlier on Sunday, Italy had claimed third-place in the tournament by beating Belgium 2-1 in Turin.

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Star-studded Paris Saint-Germain were held to a surprising 1-1 draw by Club Brugge on Wednesday night in Group A in Flanders.

Lionel Messi made his first start for PSG, lining up alongside former Barcelona teammate Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the XI for the first time since joining from the Catalan giants in the summer.

Despite a long list of high-profile arrivals in Paris, it was Ander Herrera that opened the scoring in the 15th minute for the visiting side, reaching behind him to lash home a left-footed shot after Mbappe picked him out in the middle of the penalty area.

“We didn’t play a fantastic game, but to be fair we did enough to win, we deserved to win,” said Herrera.

“Maybe they had opportunities at the beginning of the second half but I think we controlled the match, we had a lot of chances.”

Brugge hit back before the half-hour when Hans Vanaken powered a first time shot past Keylor Navas from Eduard Sobol’s inch-perfect cross into the centre of the box to put the match back on level terms.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side found themselves under pressure from the Belgian champions after the leveller, but they managed to get into the dressing room for half-time in a 1-1 draw.

Mbappe, who went to ground in the first half and came off briefly, then limped off the pitch early in the second after an awkward tangle with a pair of Brugge defenders and was replaced by Mauro Icardi.

Both sides pushed for a go-ahead goal as the second half wore on, and Messi had a great chance saved by Simon Mignolet around 70 minutes before the Argentine was shown yellow for a challenge on Brugge’s Mats Rits.

“I didn’t have a lot of work, I just pulled a couple of saves. We played as a compact side, it was the right approach,” the Belgian said.

No winner came for either club and the teams settled for a point apiece to trail Manchester City, who thrashed RB Leipzig on Wednesday, in the group.

After the match, Pochettino urged patience with PSG’s new attacking trio: “It requires time for them to shine together.

“It requires work. I had made it clear that we’re not a team yet, we have to work for this.”

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Kylian Mbappe annoyed with Paris Saint-Germain over failed Real Madrid move

Kylian Mbappe has reportedly been left annoyed at Paris Saint-Germain‘s refusal to sanction a move to Real Madrid.

Los Blancos were supposedly willing to pay £197m to secure Mbappe’s signature in the most recent transfer window, but PSG did not respond to the mammoth offer.

As a result, Mbappe is set to remain at the Parc des Princes for one more season, and Real are expected to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with the 22-year-old in January ahead of a free transfer.

According to Marca, Mbappe was expecting PSG to accept Real’s nine-figure sum on deadline day and has been left “annoyed” with the Parisiens’ board for stalling over the bid.

While Real will have to wait one more year to secure the striker’s signature, PSG are now set to lose him on a free transfer after forking out a total of £163m to sign him from Monaco permanently in 2018.

The World Cup-winning Frenchman already boasts three goals and two assists from four Ligue 1 games this season, but he suffered a reported calf injury in France’s 1-1 draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina during World Cup qualifying in midweek

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Paris Saint-Germain yet to respond to latest Real Madrid offer for Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly yet to respond to Real Madrid second offer to sign Kylian Mbappe this summer.

An opening bid worth around £137m was rejected, but the La Liga giants have since given the Parisian outfit an ultimatum as they have tabled a final offer worth £145.6m.

Mbappe has entered the final 12 months of his contract at the Parc des Princes, and with the Frenchman yet to agree terms for a new deal, PSG are at risk of losing the 22-year-old for free next summer, if they are unable to sell him.

According to Marca, PSG have been given a 6pm deadline on Monday to respond to Real Madrid’s latest bid.

If an agreement cannot be reached before this deadline, then Los Blancos are prepared to cancel plans to complete the transfer in this window and wait until January to negotiate a pre-contract agreement to sign the player in the summer of 2022.

Mbappe, started and scored a brace in PSG’s 2-0 victory away at Reims on Sunday, increasing his goals tally for the club to 135 in 175 appearances across all competitions.

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Lionel Messi era begins as PSG beat Reims; Mbappe scores 2

Messi made his debut for PSG on Sunday after coming off the bench midway through the second half in a 2-0 win at Reims in the French league.

The Lionel Messi era has begun at Paris Saint-Germain, without a goal for the Argentine superstar but plenty of adulation and fanfare.

Messi made his debut for PSG on Sunday after coming off the bench midway through the second half in a 2-0 win at Reims in the French league.

Messi replaced his friend and former Barcelona teammate Neymar in the 66th minute and they shared a hug.

After years of glory for Messi at the 99,000-capacity Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, the record six-time Ballon d’Or winner and four-time Champions League victor made his first PSG appearance at the modest 20,000-seater Stade Auguste Delaune.

Such is Messi’s star factor that the home fans chanted “Messi, Messi” while a smiling Reims goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic took a photo of Messi holding a child after the game.

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino was touched by the reception for Messi, pointing out that supporters of both teams were delighted to see him play.

“The welcome he got was something beautiful to see and hear, on the part of our fans but also the Reims fans,” Pochettino said.

“Messi was very happy about it. His presence generates more enthusiasm, everyone can feel it and it has an effect on the other players.”

Before the match, hundreds of fans gathered for a glimpse of Messi as he descended the team bus and he waved back at them.

They wanted to see one of the all-time greats, along with Pele and the late Diego Maradona, who Messi adored.
Messi’s incredible skill, close control, grace, vision, dancing feet, astute passing, speed of thought and execution have thrilled fans for years.

He netted 672 goals for Barca and won 35 trophies for the Spanish giant, including the 2015 Champions League alongside Neymar.

That was the last time Messi won Europe’s elite trophy and, somewhat ironically, his last goal for Barca in the Champions League was a brilliant strike away to PSG last season in the round of 16.

The 34-year-old Messi, who led his nation to the Copa America title last month, joined PSG three weeks ago after his new contract with Barcelona fell through.

Striker Kylian Mbappe was named in the starting lineup as Real Madrid tries to sign him before the end of the summer transfer window.

Mbappe had already scored both goals before Messi came on.

He headed in Angel Di Maria’s cross in the 15th minute and then turned in Achraf Hakimi’s cross in the 63rd for his 135th goal since joining PSG in 2017.

“No, I wasn’t surprised by his enthusiasm,” said Pochettino, who did not comment on Mbappe’s immediate future.
For it remains to be seen whether it’s his last for PSG, which has started the season with four straight wins and has 12 points.


French champion Lille and Monaco finally won their first games of the season.

Yusuf Yazici and Jonathan David scored as Lille beat Montpellier 2-1, and Sofiane Diop grabbed both goals as Monaco bounced back with a 2-1 win at Troyes.

Angers remains unbeaten and has 10 points after beating Rennes 2-0 at home.

Also, it was: Lens 2, Lorient 2; Strasbourg 3, Brest 1; Clermont 2, Metz 2.

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Mauricio Pochettino confident of keeping Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has said that he is planning for Kylian Mbappe to stay at the club for the 2021-22 campaign.

The France international’s future remains the subject of much speculation, with his contract in Paris due to expire next June.

Real Madrid continue to be credited with an interest in the World Cup winner, although the Spanish outfit’s financial issues will make it difficult for them to sign him before the end of the transfer window.

Pochettino has insisted that the 22-year-old “is motivated” at the club, and the head coach is not expecting to lose the attacker over the next couple of weeks.

“I see that he [Mbappe] is motivated, working hard to making this a great season,” Pochettino told reporters. “He is our player and I don’t see him not being here this season.

“He has a year left on his contract, even if he doesn’t renew it, and he has demonstrated to me that he is happy with us here. He is calm and the club knows what they’re going to do. We know he is our player and that he is preparing for our match tomorrow.”

Mbappe has scored 132 goals and registered 63 assists in 173 appearances for PSG since arriving from Monaco, initially on loan, in July 2017.

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Kylian Mbappe set up the first goal and grabbed one of his own as Paris Saint-Germain retained the French Cup with a 2-0 victory over AS Monaco in Wednesday’s final at the Stade de France.

Quick thinking by Mbappe to disposes Axel Disasi in his own penalty area, as the Monaco defender let a short pass from goalkeeper Radoslaw Majecki slip under his feet, set up a 19th-minute opener for Mauro Icardi.

Mbappe took the ball away and, displaying quick feet, passed square for Icardi to tuck the ball home from close range.

With teammate Neymar suspended and watching from the empty stands, Mbappe was able to dominate the contest with his talent and pace and added the second goal in the 81st minute.

Angel Di Maria set him up with a short through-ball and the World Cup winner lifted his finish over Majecki to make sure of the outcome.

Mbappe’s goal came a minute after he had hit the crossbar with a clever chip from outside the penalty area having spotted Majecki off his line.

It was one of few chances in a largely dour final, played behind closed doors, that only came alive in the last 15 minutes.

PSG retained their title and extended to 14 their record number of wins in the cup. Monaco had won five previous times but last in 1991. They were last in the final in 2010 when PSG also beat them.

“We work every day to experience this type of emotion, reward and recognition. The work of a whole group, the staff, and the supporters who could not be here. We think about them a lot, this title is also for them,” Mbappe said.

“When you play for PSG, one of the biggest clubs in the world, the biggest club in the country, every title counts to go down in history. We want to be part of this story, it’s a great step today.”

PSG defender Alessandro Florenzi had a powerful shot tipped over by Majecki in the first half while Monaco created the better opportunities after the break.

PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas made two good saves from Wissam Ben Yedder and Krepin Diatta and saw an errant cross rebound back into play off his crossbar.

But any hopes of a comeback were swiftly ended by the pace and vision of Mbappe as he settled the outcome.

Both clubs now turn their attention to the end of the Ligue 1 season on Sunday where they hold out hopes of winning the title. PSG are second, one point behind leaders Lille, while Monaco are three points adrift.