Paris Saint-Germain ended their Ligue 1 campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win at Metz on Sunday, courtesy of early goals from Carlos Soler and Lee Kang-in.

The Ligue 1 champions, who rested several key players, ended the season with 76 points, nine ahead of Monaco in second place.

Luis Enrique's team also became the first side in Ligue 1 history to go unbeaten on the road through the entirety of a campaign.

PSG rested several key players, including Kylian Mbappe, ahead of the Coupe de France final on Saturday against Lyon.

The visitors made an excellent start with Soler, who was teed up by Lee, breaking the deadlock with a shot from outside the box seven minutes in.

Lee subsequently doubled the lead five minutes later, becoming the first South Korean player to score and deliver an assist in the same Ligue 1 match since Hwang Ui-jo for Bordeaux in 2019.

Metz had their chances late in the match and went close on several occasions, but could not find a way back into the contest, and they will now face a relegation play-off against Saint-Etienne.

Data Debrief: History boys

PSG are the first team in Europe's top five leagues to have gone an entire league season without trailing for a single minute in an away match in the 21st century.

Their tally of 76 points trails only Saint-Etienne (77 in 1968-69, 81 in 1969-70, counting three points for a win) when it comes to a points total over the course of an 18-club league campaign.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Luis Enrique is fully focused on what is going on in France, and not paying attention to the situation at Barcelona.

Reports this week suggested Barca may look to replace Xavi with PSG coach Luis Enrique, who led the Blaugrana to success during his stint in charge between 2014 and 2017.

However, the former Spain coach is not interested in any speculation.

Speaking ahead of PSG's trip to Metz on Sunday, he said: "I have already given my opinion on Ligue 1, which is much more competitive than I heard.

"It is clear that there is a high level, with many excellent players. I was pleasantly surprised by the level, including the physical aspect, the coaches and the players.

"I only look at what’s happening in France. I don't know [about Barcelona], I don't comment."

Kylian Mbappe, who is leaving the club at the end of the season, missed PSG's win over Nice in midweek due to a hamstring issue.

Bradley Barcola stepped up in Mbappe's absence, scoring and providing an assist in the 2-1 victory, and the 21-year-old has also been called up for France's Euro 2024 squad.

"Barcola can improve everywhere, like the rest of the players, but above all Bradley is a very young player," Luis Enrique said.

"One thing that I really like is that when you sign a youngster from another team, it's something that seems easy to accept such a challenge but it is very difficult.

"You must understand that the level to be a starter is higher. When a young player like Bradley accepts that and with the performances he has already achieved, I think it's nice to see him at the Euros.

"He deserves it. Next year, the challenge will be even bigger. Our goal for next season will be to look for other [signings], so they are in competition with those already present."

Luis Enrique also knows he will have to adapt to life without Mbappe, who seems destined to join Real Madrid.

"Without a doubt. One of the characteristics of a coach is to adapt," he said.

"We prepared for this group of players but now, with those we can sign and those we already have, there will be tactical changes to come with an undoubtedly more balanced team. There is still room for improvement, in defence and attack."

However, PSG will not limit themselves to signing younger players, but instead base their recruitment on the level of talent they are aiming to bring in.

"We don't sign players based on their age but on their talent," Luis Enrique added. "We sign talent!

"The transfer window will present us with different options and depending on what will be best for the team, we will try to strengthen ourselves. I also like the 30 or 35-year-old players who give a good level for the team. They are all young if you compare them to the coach."

Kylian Mbappe marked his 25th birthday with a brace as Paris St Germain returned to winning ways in Ligue 1 with a 3-1 home victory over struggling Metz.

Mbappe had been a virtual passenger for long periods before he rifled home his first on the hour mark, and he added a second seven minutes from time to make sure of the points.

It was a welcome response from the shock of conceding a stoppage-time equaliser against Lille at the weekend and maintained PSG’s five-point lead at the top of the table.

But Metz gave them problems and briefly threatened to force their way back into the game after Matthieu Udol headed home their only goal to reduce the deficit in the 72nd minute.

PSG struggled to turn their near-constant possession into chances early in the opening period with Vitinha coming closest during a frantic spell in the visitors’ box.

Mbappe would almost certainly have won a penalty after 15 minutes when he was brought down by Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja in the box, but he strayed marginally offside in the process.

Metz almost grabbed a shock lead 10 minutes later when the persistently dangerous Kevin Van Den Kerkhof crossed into the box and Danilo bounced a header against his own crossbar.

Mbappe drilled his only chance of a frustrating first period into the Metz wall, before PSG finally got on the scoresheet five minutes after half-time.

Lee Kang-in cut inside and found Vitinha whose volley from close-range put the home side 1-0 in front.

Mbappe might have hardly been in the game but he still rose to the occasion when it mattered, unleashing a 25-yard rocket on the hour that gave Oukidja no chance.

Just when the hosts looked set to cruise to victory, Metz gave them something to think about as Udol headed home to reduce the deficit, then the buoyant visitors forced a succession of corners.

But PSG were still carrying plenty of threat and they effectively sealed the win in the 83rd minute when Mbappe pounced on a poor back pass to lift the ball over the Metz keeper.

To round off a memorable night for Mbappe, his 16-year-old brother Ethan made his debut from the substitutes’ bench in the final moments.

Franck Ribery's playing career has come to an end.

On Friday, the former France and Bayern Munich winger announced his retirement at the age of 39, having agreed to terminate his deal with Serie A club Salernitana.

He signed for Salernitana ahead of last season, though for the first time since the 2004-05 season, failed to score in the league.

His sole Serie A appearance this season came in a 1-0 defeat to Roma back in August, as a second-half substitute, and in truth it was no surprise when rumours recently emerged of his imminent retirement.

There can be no doubt, however, that Ribery will go down as one of European football's greats of the modern era.

In 2013, Ribery was nominated for the Ballon d'Or, finishing third in the voting behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Falling short against two of the best to play the game is no shame, and using Opta data, here are some of the key facts from Ribery's glittering career.

Ligue 1 breakthrough

Having made a name for himself with Brest in Ligue 2, Ribery was recruited by Metz in 2004. He spent only half a season there and scored just one goal before joining Turkish giants Galatasaray, yet he made a big impact, with comparisons drawn to one of the club's greatest exports, Robert Pires.

His only goal in Turkey came in the Turkish Cup final against Gala's great rivals Fenerbahce, in a 5-1 victory. Having claimed his first trophy, Ribery headed home to France, signing for Marseille.

It was a messy move, with FIFA ultimately ruling in Ribery's favour after the player claimed he had not been paid his wages by Gala, as well as alleging to have been threatened by his former agent and a club director. 

Ribery spent two seasons with Marseille and became a star, being named the National Union of Professional Footballers' (UNFP) Young Player of the Year in 2006. 

His performances at the 2006 World Cup (more on that later) only increased his profile, with Marseille seeing off interest from Real Madrid, Arsenal and, controversially, rivals Lyon to keep hold of Ribery.

 

That decision paid off for OM. In his final campaign in France, in 2006-07, Ribery provided eight assists, behind only Nancy's Benjamin Gavanon (nine), and had the highest tally of chances created per 90 minutes (2.95) among players who had featured for over 100 minutes across the season.

Marseille finished second, after losing in the final of the Coupe de France, and Ribery was named the French Player of the Year by France Football.

Flourishing for France

Ribery made his debut for Les Bleus in May 2006, ahead of the World Cup in Germany, where he truly made his name as a superstar.

Between making his debut and playing his final international match in March 2014, Ribery featured in more France games than any other player (81) in the same period, 11 ahead of second-ranked Florent Malouda.

Indeed, his 37 goal involvements (16 goals, 21 assists) was more than any other French player, and puts him sixth on the nation's goal involvements list in the 21st century.

He helped France reach the final of the 2006 World Cup, though they failed to make it out of the group stage in South Africa four years later, while success also eluded them in the Euros during Ribery's stint on the international stage.

Greatness in Germany

In 2007, Bayern paid Marseille €25million for the 24-year-old. It was an investment worth every cent.

Ribery went on to play 425 times for Bayern in all competitions, making him the non-German player with the second-most appearances for the club, behind David Alaba (431), since 1965.

When it comes to French players, only Jonathan Schmid has made more Bundesliga appearances (296) than Ribery (273), who scored 124 goals in all competitions for Bayern.

Since detailed data collection of the Bundesliga began in 2004, Thomas Muller is the only player to provide more assists than Ribery, who set up 92 goals.

Ribery was at the peak of his powers in the 2012-13 season, as he helped Bayern win the treble and was named UEFA Men's Player of the Year, before going on to come third in the Ballon d'Or rankings.

That season, he provided 14 assists in the Bundesliga, a total trailing only Andres Iniesta (16) when it came to players in Europe's big five leagues.

Ribery left Bayern as a club great, having formed one of the all-time most fearsome wing partnerships with Arjen Robben. He won nine Bundesliga titles, a tally that trails only former club-mates Alaba and Robert Lewandowski (10 each) when it comes to foreign players in Germany's top tier.

 

Italian swansong

After leaving Bayern, Ribery tried his hand in Italy, joining Fiorentina.

Over his two seasons in Florence, Ribery created 70 goalscoring opportunities in Serie A, behind only Erick Pulgar (104) in Fiorentina's squad. His dribbling ability was still top class, too, with Gaetano Castrovilli his only team-mate to complete more dribbles (123 to Ribery's 117).

Ribery played 51 times for Fiorentina in all competitions, starting on 47 occasions. He scored five goals, contributed nine assists and had 182 touches in the opposition's box. Surprisingly, he played only five successful crosses, though he was often deployed in a more central role for La Viola.

In his 25 matches for Salernitana, Ribery failed to score, though his three assists in Serie A mean he is the club's joint-top creator of goals, alongside Milan Djuric and Pasquale Mazzocchi, in the same timeframe. 

Marquinhos savoured a "perfect evening" for Paris Saint-Germain as Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick and Angel di Maria signed off in style in a 5-0 rout of Metz.

Mauricio Pochettino's side relegated Metz by dishing out on a thrashing in their final game of the season after Mbappe signed a new contract.

It was announced before kick-off at Parc des Princes on Saturday that France forward Mbappe had snubbed Real Madrid in favour of putting paper on a new three-year deal with the Ligue 1 champions.

Meanwhile Di Maria, who left the field in tears when substituted late on, marked his final appearance for the club after seven years in the French capital by rounding off the scoring.

Marquinhos told Prime Video Sport: "The tribute to Di Maria is deserved for everything he has done. Kylian [Mbappe] scores and announces his extension, it's a perfect evening."

And the skipper is well aware of the significance of keeping hold of Mbappe following so much talk that he was on his way to Madrid.

He added: "[Kylian] was strong; he didn't say anything, he showed nothing. When we were in the dressing room, this ceremony [when his new deal was revealed] boosted us for the game.

"[His extension] is a big step, but there is still a lot to do, we have to analyse what has been good and not so good this season."

Marquinhos also paid tribute to the outgoing Di Maria, who is heavily linked with a move to Serie A giants Juventus.

"[Angel is] a great, he's a gentleman. He's a big game player," he continued.

"He has always made a difference for us – me especially; he gave me a lot of passes. 

"It touches when you see players like that leave; it's part of my story here.  It hurts to see him go, we just have to thank him."

Kylian Mbappe celebrated signing his new Paris Saint-Germain contract by scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 rout that relegated 10-man Metz.

The France international, who had been heavily linked with a blockbuster move to Real Madrid, ended months of speculation over his future earlier by penning a new deal with the Ligue 1 champions until 2025 on Saturday.

Mbappe marked the occasion in style with a treble against Metz, who had Boubacar Traore sent off in the second half as they were consigned to the drop at Parc des Princes.

Neymar was also on target along with Angel di Maria, who was given a great reception when he was substituted in his final appearance for Mauricio Pochettino's side before a proposed move to Juventus.

There was already a party mood for the PSG's final game of the Ligue 1 season following the news that Mbappe would remain in the French capital, with the deal confirmed before the game kicked off.

And PSG's talisman opened the scoring in the 25th minute; racing onto Di Maria's delightful throughball and rounding Marc-Aurele Caillard before slotting into the empty net.

Ligue 1's top scorer doubled his tally just three minutes later. This time, Lionel Messi provided the precise pass, before Mbappe his finish under the dive of Caillard.

Neymar then got in on the act just past the half-hour mark. The Brazil international applied a neat finish as the ball broke kindly for him after Kiki Kouyate's brilliant sliding challenge initially denied Di Maria.

Mbappe completed his hat-trick within five minutes of the restart; dispossessing Kouyate and rounding Caillard before applying the finish for his 28th league goal of the campaign.

Sorry Metz were reduced to 10 men when Traore was shown a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Neymar, before Di Maria made it five in the 67th minute after Messi's initial strike hit the post.

Di Maria was then in tears after he was withdrawn, bringing his successful career with the club to an end on a high note.

Mauricio Pochettino has insisted Kylian Mbappe is a "fantastic guy" after the Paris Saint-Germain star came in for criticism following the midweek win over Metz. 

PSG won 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to Achraf Hakimi's last-gasp winner, after Metz captain Dylan Bronn had received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away to waste time, with coach Frederic Antonetti then seeing red for his protestations on the touchline. 

As PSG celebrated Hakimi scoring, Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja charged out to confront some of Pochettino's players, seemingly angered by the nature of their celebrations, with Mbappe the main target of his remonstrations.  

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Antonetti hit out at Mbappe, who he claimed needed to be humble in his behaviour on the field.

Pochettino, however, defended Mbappe on Friday, saying incidents within a match must be taken within that context. 

"I understand that the coach was angry. That is a natural reaction," said Pochettino. 

"You have to take the context into account, especially when considering after losing a game in the 95th minute, I can empathise with Fred for being angry about the situation. 

"Kylian Mbappe is a fantastic guy, he is a top competitor who wants to win, always. 

"These things happen on the pitch, but I don't think they need to be carried off the pitch as well in terms of the situations with him and some Metz players. 

"These incidents cannot be taken out of context, they have to be analysed within a match in which both teams want to win and many things happen, so that cannot be used out of context. 

"That doesn't reflect the reality of who Kylian is, but I can understand the frustration on their behalf." 

 

Mbappe had a game-leading three attempts, level with Neymar and Hakimi, while the 22-year-old also created four chances, more than any other player. 

He had 76 touches and came out on top in 63.6 per cent of his 11 duels, while also winning three fouls, another game high, though only Neymar (34) lost possession more times than the France forward (18). 

With Lionel Messi out injured, the onus will be on Neymar and Mbappe to spearhead PSG's attack against Montpellier on Saturday. 

Mbappe has been involved in 11 goals against Montpellier in Ligue 1 (eight goals, three assists), more than any other current team in the competition. 

After failing to be involved in either goal against Metz, however, he will be aiming to make sure he does not feature in successive league matches without scoring or assisting for the first time since February. 

Kylian Mbappe must behave differently if he is to be universally adored, according to Metz coach Frederic Antonetti.

Paris Saint-Germain continued their 100 per cent record in Ligue 1 this season as Achraf Hakimi, who had also opened the scoring, netted a stoppage-time winner with the last kick of the game against Metz on Wednesday.

Hakimi's goal came four minutes after Metz captain Dylan Bronn had received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away to waste time, with Antonetti then seeing red for his protestations on the touchline, the furious coach even going as far as gesturing with two fists towards the referee after his dismissal.

As PSG celebrated Hakimi's winner moments later, Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja charged out to confront Mauricio Pochettino's players, seemingly angered by the nature of their celebrations.

Mbappe, who had in the 83rd minute inadvertently gone close to lobbing Oukidja with a return of possession after Metz had kicked the ball out of play for an injury, appeared to be the main target of the goalkeeper's remonstrations, which continued after the final whistle.

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Antonetti hit out at the PSG star, who he suggested had grown frustrated after a poor performance.

"Kylian Mbappe had better behave differently if he wants to be loved," Antonetti said.

"I love this player, he is very, very strong, but he would benefit from having a more humble behaviour.

"In the game he had been non-existent. It happens when he cannot find space."

The statistics from Wednesday's game would not wholly back up Antonetti's claim over Mbappe's display, however.

Mbappe had a game-leading three attempts, level with Neymar and Hakimi, while the 22-year-old also created four chances, more than any other player.

He had 76 touches and came out on top in 63.6 per cent of his 11 duels, while also winning three fouls, another game high, though only Neymar (34) lost possession more times than the France forward (18).

It was, however, the first time Mbappe had failed to score or assist a goal in a Ligue 1 appearance against Metz, in what was his sixth such match.

The former Monaco prodigy had managed one assist against Metz in October 2016, scored a hat-trick the following February, an assist and a goal in September 2017, a goal in March 2018 and a double in April this year.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino hailed Achraf Hakimi after his brace preserved the Ligue 1 giants' perfect start to the season on Wednesday.

Hakimi scored a last-gasp winner as Lionel Messi-less PSG maintained their 100 per cent record in a dramatic 2-1 victory at Metz midweek.

PSG full-back Hakimi had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, only for Pochettino's men to be pegged back by Kiki Kouyate's 39th-minute header.

Without superstar Messi due to a knee injury, PSG looked to have run out of ideas, but Dylan Bronn's dismissal for a second yellow card set up a thrilling finish.

Metz head coach Frederic Antonetti was sent off for his protestations and moments later Hakimi scored a 95th-minute winner as PSG made it seven victories from seven league fixtures.

"I am indeed happy with him, he's a great guy, he's a player who's really bringing a lot to us, not just the goals, but also his capacity on the sideline to play both defensively and offensively," Pochettino said during his post-match news conference.

"I am very happy with him, and today, scoring goals, it's been an important reward for the team and for him."

Hakimi – an off-season signing from Serie A champions Inter – has been involved in 13 league goals in 2021 (six goals and seven assists), no defender has done better in the top five European competitions.

This was Hakimi's second brace in the top five European leagues after December 2020, with Inter against Bologna.

Pochettino added: "Can I tell an anecdote on Hakimi? Yesterday [Tuesday], after the training, I asked him: 'How are you?' And he said: 'Very well, very well'. And then he replied: 'And you coach? How are you?'

"I was surprised by the question. 'Because no one ever asks you!'. 'You ask everyone, but no one ever asks you'. And look, today he scored goals. That's the reward for having good intentions."

Pochettino also praised PSG star Neymar, who set up Hakimi's stoppage-time winner away to Metz.

Neymar has been involved in 16 goals in his last 16 starts in Ligue 1 (10 goals and six assists).

"I am very happy with Ney and with his contribution to the team," Pochettino added. "For his attitude and mindset. I am very happy. What I believe is that creative players, players who the whole world hopes they show magic with every touch, those players spend extra energy that other players don't have.

"Therefore it would be unfair to have a player like Ney play every three days hoping that every ball he touches he makes the play of the year. I am very happy with Ney and I think today he did a massive job, like last Sunday. Playing every three day, especially for a players who's got to create constantly, is not easy. Because of that, I am very happy with his performance. Very happy of it."

PSG have won their first seven Ligue 1 games in 2021-22. Only four teams have managed such a performance at this stage previously in the top flight – Lille in 1936-37, Lille in 1949-50, Monaco in 1960-61 and PSG in 2018-19.

Achraf Hakimi scored a last-gasp winner as Paris Saint-Germain maintained their 100 per cent record in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 vitory at Metz.

Hakimi had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, only for PSG to pegged back by Kiki Kouyate's 39th-minute header.

Deprived of Lionel Messi's services because of a knee injury, PSG looked to have run out of ideas, but Dylan Bronn's dismissal for a second yellow card set in motion a thrilling and fractious finish.

Metz coach Frederic Antonetti was sent off for his protestations and moments later Hakimi lashed the winner into the bottom corner in the 95th minute, prompting a furious response from Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja as PSG made it seven wins from seven.

A long evening appeared to be in store for Metz when PSG broke the deadlock in impressive fashion. Mauro Icardi's delicate chip was cleared off the line by Matthieu Udol, who could not repeat the feat to prevent Hakimi's follow-up from crossing the line.

Yet PSG failed to make the most of their first-half dominance. The visitors enjoyed three-quarters of the possession in the opening period but were pegged back from a set-piece as Kouyate met Lamine Gueye's corner with a powerful header that proved too strong for Keylor Navas.

Gueye could have completed the turnaround on the stroke of half-time, but he failed to find a way past Navas when sent through on goal by Ibrahima Niane.

Neymar fizzed an effort past the near post as PSG sought to regain their lead and the Brazil star was to the fore again when Hakimi blazed high across the face of goal from his clever lofted pass.

Kylian Mbappe almost caught Oukidja off his line with a long-range free-kick, and that should have been Metz's last scare. But there was a twist in the tale as captain Bronn received a second caution for time-wasting having kicked the ball away, with Hakimi cutting in and converting from another superb Neymar pass after Antonetti had seen red.

Is Kylian Mbappe's future nearing a resolution?

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season and the Paris Saint-Germain forward is no closer to extending his contract in the
French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly poised to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID NEARING MBAPPE DEAL?

Real Madrid are closing in on Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Monday's Marca.

Mbappe is in the final year of his PSG contract and he has reportedly made it clear he has no intention of re-signing in Paris.

Long touted to join Madrid, the LaLiga giants' pursuit of Mbappe is set to enter a decisive phase this week.

The Transfer Window podcast, however, claims Liverpool will attempt to sign Mbappe on a free transfer at the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona are monitoring Arsenal pair Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as they look to rebuild following Lionel Messi's departure to PSG.

- Inter are eyeing Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne but want a discount on the Italy star, claims Sky Sport Italia. Napoli value Insigne at around €25-30million with one year remaining on his contract. Lazio's Joaquin Correa, Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata and Fiorentina sensation Dusan Vlahovic have also been linked to Inter.

- Sport Italia says Tottenham are in talks with Fiorentina for centre-back Nikola Milenkovic, who has been linked with West Ham. Spurs are also keen on Fiorentina star Vlahovic, according to Sport Italia.

- According to Cadena SER, Antoine Griezmann is open to returning to Atletico Madrid this off-season. Griezmann swapped Atletico for Barca in 2019.

Luka Jovic has decided he wants to join Inter on loan, per Nerazzurri Siamo Noi. The Madrid outcast has also been linked with Eintracht Frankfurt, Sampdoria and Genoa.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are tracking Metz's 18-year-old midfielder Pape Matar Sarr, claims the Daily Mail.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe is not thought to be in danger of missing Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Manchester City despite sustaining a knock on Saturday.

Mbappe scored two of PSG's goals in their straightforward 3-1 win at Metz, a victory that lifted the Parisians back to the top of the table – at least until Sunday.

Those goals took Mbappe to 19 goal involvements away from home this season, more than anyone else in Europe's top five leagues, while only Erling Haaland (10) and Robert Lewandowski (nine) have more braces.

It continued the France striker's hot streak, taking him to nine goals in seven league games having previously only netted four times in nine top-flight matches.

There was a cause for concern late on as Mbappe suffered what appeared to be a heavy blow to his knee, with the 22-year-old subsequently substituted.

But Pochettino is not worried about his star man, who would be a major miss against City.

"It's a blow to the quads," Pochettino told Canal Plus. "I don't think it's much, we hope it's not serious.

"I don't think he's in danger for Wednesday. It's just a blow. It does not give us that impression [that he'll miss the City game].

"Kylian was calm at the time of his substitution, even though the blow was painful."

Marco Verratti, who also assured fans regarding Mbappe, felt that winning on Saturday was vital for ensuring a positive mentality going into the City clash and keeping the pressure on title rivals Lille, who face fourth-placed Lyon on Sunday.

"You have to win if you want to win this title," the Italy international said. "We want to win as many games as possible.

"I think we are having a good run. We are happy with what we have done so far.

"We are on our way to winning all the titles. We are coming into this match [City game] in the best possible way. We know that we meet a team like us who can also achieve a treble.

"They have confidence in themselves. It's going to be a nice game. We know that we have to be 100 per cent.

"We are there, we are ready. We will fight for 90 minutes on Wednesday. Then we will move on to the return leg."

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a straightforward 3-1 victory at Metz on Saturday to put the pressure back on Lille in the Ligue 1 title race.

By no means were Mauricio Pochettino's side outstanding as a collective at Stade Saint-Symphorien, but Mbappe was, the France striker deadly in front of goal as he took his league tally to 25 for the campaign.

Mbappe's first arrived early on as PSG initially appeared in the mood, though they faded somewhat and failed to build on that goal despite Metz offering precious little themselves.

At least, that was the case until the break. Metz levelled just 49 seconds into the second half thanks to Fabien Centonze as PSG looked in danger of dropping points for the third time in six games, but Mbappe's deflected effort just before the hour restored the Parisians' lead and a late Mauro Icardi penalty ensured there was no collapse from the defending champions, who go two points clear of Lille.

PSG looked bright at the start as they took the lead after just four minutes, Mbappe racing on to Ander Herrera's pass over the Metz defence and volleying in off the post after bringing the ball under control with his chest.

Though that was hardly a prelude to unrelenting PSG pressure as they did not carve out another clear chance for another 22 minutes, with Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja this time able to deny Mbappe.

The visitors then felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty late in the half as the lively Mbappe went down right on the edge of the area, though replays suggested there was minimal contact.

It was 1-1 quickly after the restart, as Centonze turned in Farid Boulaya's cross in what was a rare moment of attacking intent from the home side.

Parity did not remain for long, however, as Mbappe received the ball just outside the Metz area in the 59th minute and his rasping drive took a slight deflection to take it out of Oukidja's reach.

It looked like dominant PSG might not increase their lead in the latter stages, with Mbappe denied a hat-trick by a remarkable goalline clearance from Boulaya and Herrera smashing against the crossbar. 

But Dylan Bronn's clumsy foul on substitute Icardi in the box led to a penalty, which the Argentinian converted with a cheeky 'Panenka' as PSG return to the summit at least until Sunday. 

What does it mean? All eyes on Lille as PSG avoid shock ahead of pivotal week 

Given how often PSG have dropped points this season, few would have claimed this was a foregone conclusion beforehand, even with Metz's shoddy form in recent weeks. 

With that said, PSG's display was professional if not exceptional and it got the job done. Lille go to Lyon on Sunday needing to win to end the weekend as leaders, but an OL side still chasing Champions League qualification will not make it easy. 

PSG can now look forward to their date with Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek having not increased the heat on themselves. 

Neymar provides the spark 

While Mbappe takes the headlines with his brace, Neymar certainly warrants a mention. The Brazilian may not have been particular accurate in front of goal, with none of his four shots accurate, but he made five key passes in his 81 minutes on the pitch.  

A day to forget for Bronn 

Granted, there were few Metz players bar Boulaya who impressed, but Bronn will be particularly frustrated with himself. His foul to concede the penalty was brainless, as he recklessly swung his back leg out and caught Icardi. That killed the game off. 

What's next? 

PSG turn their attention to the Champions League now, with City visiting for the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday before hosting Lens in Ligue 1 three days later. Metz go to Dijon next Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a straightforward 3-1 victory at Metz on Saturday to put the pressure back on Lille in the Ligue 1 title race.

By no means were Mauricio Pochettino's side outstanding as a collective at Stade Saint-Symphorien, but Mbappe was, the France striker deadly in front of goal as he took his league tally to 25 for the campaign.

Mbappe's first arrived early on as PSG initially appeared in the mood, though they faded somewhat and failed to build on that goal despite Metz offering precious little themselves.

At least, that was the case until the break. Metz levelled just 49 seconds into the second half thanks to Fabien Centonze as PSG looked in danger of dropping points for the third time in six games, but Mbappe's deflected effort just before the hour restored the Parisians' lead and a late Mauro Icardi penalty ensured there was no collapse from the defending champions.

PSG looked bright at the start as they took the lead after just four minutes, Mbappe racing on to Ander Herrera's pass over the Metz defence and volleying in off the post after bringing the ball under control with his chest.

Though that was hardly a prelude to unrelenting PSG pressure as they did not carve out another clear chance for another 22 minutes, with Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja this time able to deny Mbappe.

The visitors then felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty late in the half as the lively Mbappe went down right on the edge of the area, though replays suggested there was minimal contact.

It was 1-1 quickly after the restart, as Centonze turned in Farid Boulaya's cross in what was a rare moment of attacking intent from the home side.

Parity did not remain for long, however, as Mbappe received the ball just outside the Metz area in the 59th minute and his rasping drive took a slight deflection to take it out of Oukidja's reach.

It looked like dominant PSG might not increase their lead in the latter stages, with Mbappe denied a hat-trick by a remarkable goalline clearance from Boulaya and Herrera smashing against the crossbar. 

But Dylan Bronn's clumsy foul on substitute Icardi in the box led to a penalty, which the Argentinian converted with a cheeky 'Panenka' as PSG return to the summit at least until Sunday. 

Raheem Sterling has lost his place in the Manchester City starting line-up prompting fresh speculation.

Phil Foden has taken Sterling's role with devastating effect, including scoring the winner in their midweek Champions League triumph over Borussia Dortmund.

Sterling's contract talks have also been shelved for the season, fuelling the rumours.

 

TOP STORY - REAL REIGNITE RAHEEM INTEREST

Real Madrid have reignited their interest in Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling according to the Daily Star.

Sterling is contracted with City for another two seasons, putting them in a strong position to hang on to the England international with a reported £80million price tag.

But regular football and the lure of Madrid could be compelling for Sterling who joined City from Liverpool in 2015 for £44m.

 

ROUND-UP

-The Daily Star reports that Paul Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has informed Manchester United that he will only re-sign for a mammoth £500,000-a-week contract. Interested clubs Juventus, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have also been informed of his wage demands.

-Adama Traore will be offloaded by Wolverhampton as they seek to raise funds for their off-season recruitment reports Football Insider.

-Mundo Deportivo claims that Tottenham are keen to sign Real Betis defender Emerson, having shown interest last off-season.

-Manchester United are homing in on 18-year-old Metz midfielder Pape Sarr according to The Sun although they will face plenty of competition.

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