Mbappé and Messi combine as leader PSG wins 3-0 at Marseille
PARIS (AP) — Kylian Mbappé scored twice and Lionel Messi got the other goal as the World Cup final stars combined to give French league leader Paris Saint-Germain a 3-0 win at title challenger Marseille.
Mbappé tops the league's scoring charts outright with 17 goals, and he matched Edinson Cavani's PSG club-record tally of 200 in the process on Sunday.
What better place to do it than at bitter rival Marseille, where PSG lost in the French Cup earlier this month without the injured Mbappé in the team? This time, PSG was without the injured Neymar but didn't miss the Brazil star.
A win would have moved second-place Marseille within two points of defending champion PSG. Instead, Marseille trails by eight points with only 13 rounds remaining.
Mbappé became only the second player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final when France lost on penalty kicks to Argentina last December, with an inspirational Messi netting twice in a thrilling final.
This time they combined on each other's goals to quieten a Stade Velodrome crowd full of belief after the recent cup win against a PSG side reeling from five defeats in its 12 previous games.
But after Nuno Tavares missed a great chance for Marseille, an exquisite pass from Messi near the halfway line sent Mbappé sprinting through for a typically clinical finish in the 25th minute.
Four minutes later Mbappé found space down the left and picked out Messi — who saved PSG with an injury-time free kick in a 4-3 win against Lille last weekend — for a close-range finish.
Messi set up Mbappé again with a looping pass in the 55th, moments after veteran striker Alexis Sanchez missed a great chance to pull a goal back for Marseille.
The only negative for PSG on an emphatic night was losing central defender Presnel Kimpembe to injury in the 18th. He was stretchered off after falling unchallenged to the ground and lying on his face for several moments, although the nature of his injury was not immediately clear.
Defeat means Marseille is now only two points ahead of third-place Monaco and fourth-place Lens, which both have 50 points.
It could have been worse for Marseille had Monaco not lost 3-0 at home to Nice earlier Sunday in the Riviera derby.
Nigeria striker Terem Moffi scored twice in the first 25 minutes and midfielder Khéphren Thuram — son of France great Lilian Thuram — added the third just before halftime as Nice climbed to seventh spot.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press