Neymar scores brace, Mbappe on target in PSG victory
PARIS, Aug 14, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Neymar continued his outstanding start to the season with a brace while Kylian Mbappe marked his return to the team with a goal but also had a penalty saved as Paris Saint-Germain trounced Montpellier 5-2 in Ligue 1 on Saturday.
Neymar rolled in a spot-kick to put PSG 2-0 up at the break on a hot night at the Parc des Princes after Falaye Sacko's own goal had put them ahead.
The Brazilian then headed in his second and PSG's third shortly after the interval, taking his tally for the season to five goals already after just three games.
Wahbi Khazri pulled one back for Montpellier before Mbappe made it 4-1 and new signing Renato Sanches came off the bench to get the fifth late on.
Enzo Tchato notched another consolation for the visitors at the death but PSG have now recorded three wins out of three this season under new coach Christophe Galtier, scoring 14 goals in the process.
Neymar has picked up where he left off last season, when he scored nine in PSG's final nine Ligue 1 matches.
So often plagued by fitness issues since arriving in Paris in 2017, he finally looks in rude health.
In contrast, Mbappe was playing his first competitive game since announcing on the final night of last season that he had agreed a new three-year deal to stay at PSG, turning down a move to Real Madrid in the process.
- Mbappe 'needs time' -
The France superstar missed his club's first two games of the new campaign -- a 4-0 defeat of Nantes in the season-opening Champions Trophy, and then the 5-0 win at Clermont -- due first to suspension and then injury.
"Physically, we knew his lack of game time in pre-season would cost him," Galtier told broadcaster Canal Plus when asked about Mbappe's performance and attitude, with the 23-year-old appearing frustrated at times on the night.
"He is a competitor, he wants to be good, and he wants to be good quickly."
Mbappe, whose last match was against Gamba Osaka in Japan almost three weeks ago, had a penalty saved midway through the first half by Montpellier goalkeeper Jonas Omlin after the VAR spotted a handball in the area.
However, it was his shot that was diverted in by Sacko for an own goal to break the deadlock, and Mbappe later got his goal following a Neymar corner in the second half, but Galtier admitted the striker was not yet on peak form.
"A top-level footballer can't just switch himself on or off. He needs time to be back to 100 percent of his athletic ability and when he gets there he will make even more of a difference," Galtier admitted.
"He likes to get forward and score goals and it is really quite normal that he should be, not disappointed, but a bit short of full fitness compared to his teammates."
Meanwhile Neymar thought he had a hat-trick late on when he finished from a Lionel Messi pass, only for the celebrations to be cut short when the VAR spotted an offside in the build-up.
Soon after that Sanches scored moments after coming on for his debut following a move from Lille for a reported 15 million euros ($15.4m).
PSG are expected to make more signings before the transfer window closes and have been strongly linked with Napoli's Spanish international midfielder Fabian Ruiz.
Earlier in Ligue 1, Monaco bounced back from their midweek Champions League elimination to draw 1-1 with Rennes.
Knocked out in the third qualifying round of Europe's elite club competition by PSV Eindhoven, Monaco had Youssouf Fofana sent off inside 15 minutes at the Stade Louis II.
Axel Disasi then had a penalty saved for the hosts, and Gaetan Laborde put Rennes ahead before the hour mark.
However, Swiss forward Breel Embolo pounced on an error by Rennes substitute goalkeeper Dogan Alemdar to ensure a share of the spoils.
Sunday's scheduled match between Lorient and Lyon was called off because of damage caused to the Brittany side's pitch by the scorching, dry summer weather in France combined with a festival held on the surface last week.