Paris Saint-Germain restored their five-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table on Sunday afternoon with a routine winover Auxerre, albeit with many of their would-be World Cup stars ostensibly taking it easy. Christophe Pélissier’s men had picked up four points in the two games since he had taken charge, and were able to pose something of a threat at times, to no avail.
The hosts would quickly open the scoring as Kylian Mbappé emphatically finished from close range after Nuno Mendes was found by Messi with a ball over the top. The rest of the first half would see PSG dominate, but understandably unwilling to commit too much into the game, as they remained largely undisturbed by Auxerre’s sporadic counters.
Mendes notched his second assist of the afternoon just minutes into the second half, as the Portuguese full-back danced his way into the Auxerre penalty area before lifting a squared ball onto Carlos Soler’s head for a finish into the bottom corner for the Spaniard. PSG soon began to pull away as Achraf Hakimi added a third, converting from Soler’s defence-splitting pass on a lightning-quick counter with a tidy finish to beat Costil.
As the game wound down, and the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar were substituted, PSG did manage to add another, as Renato Sanches responded to missing out on Portugual’s World Cup squad by scoring one of his own. The loudest cheer of the afternoon, though, would come for 20-year-old Hugo Ekitike’s goal, with the summer recruit getting his first for his new club, just minutes after coming agonisingly close after rounding the goalkeeper. A successful afternoon for the hosts, who never really had to raise their game, and emerge unscathed, with no injuries to report on.
PSG – 1
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 5
Achraf Hakimi, 7 – A finish worthy of a striker for his goal on the break, and was a constant presence with his characteristic lung-bursting runs down the right. Somewhat wasteful at times but mostly solid.
Nordi Mukiele, 6
Sergio Ramos, 6
Danilo, 8 – Imperious performance, in a role that sees him both as a backline sentinel and as a midfield distributor. PSG’s best defender these past few weeks, and although Auxerre barely threatened his presence was important in the middle of a much-changed lineup with the absences of Kimpembe and Marquinhos.
Nuno Mendes, 8 – A double of assists and an assured all-round performanceup and down his left wing, consistently winning his duels.
Marco Verratti, 6
Carlos Soler, 7 – Came into his own in the second half as he headed in the second goal and set up the third with a precise threaded ball for Hakimi. Was brought off on the hour mark for Renato Sanches.
Lionel Messi, 6
Neymar, 4 – A few good balls out wide but not much more involvement than that, the Brazilian visibly keeping himself fresh for the World Cup.
Kylian Mbappé, 6 – More involved than his two attacking partners – scored the opener with a straightforward finish from a Nuno Mendes cross – but somewhat missing his clinical edge – undoubtedly because the Frenchman has his mind on Qatar as well.
Subs – Hugo Ekitike – 7, Renato Sanches – 6.
Auxerre – 0
Benoît Costil, 3
Paul Joly, 4
Rayan Raveloson, 6
Julian Jeanvier, 4
Gideon Mensah, 6
Lassine Sinayoko, 4
Birame Touré, 5
Hamza Sakhi, 5
Mathieu Autret, 5
M’Baye Niang, 6 – Carved out some decent enough chances for himself on an afternoon where he was more often than not isolated up front. Forced a great save out of Donnarumma in the first half from a powerful volley. Replaced on the hour mark.
GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin